Hiram Wurf, 1970-2015

Hiram ParadeMy friend (and long-time friend of the NTDO) Hiram Wurf passed away this last week. I’ve heard rumors but I don’t really know what happened (UPDATE: I’m told now that it was a heart attack). I do know that he was only 45 and therefore much too young to be gone.

I met and befriended Hiram in 2003 or 2004 when he and Rick Klau and a collection of other Howard Dean enthusiasts began to participate in our Democratic gatherings around here. Over time Rick became Chair of the NTDO and Hiram Secretary. Hiram could always be counted on to bring a depth of information and passion – and compassion – to our discussions, cheerleading and carrying water both where those things were called for. He ran for DuPage County Board in 2004 (winning the Tribune’s endorsement!) and wrote an invariably informed and passionate weblog (cleverly named “Wurfwhile” and still online, though not updated since 2012). A quick perusal of the postings there will convince you that Hiram was impatient with the “possible.” He always advocated for what he saw as right.  He moved in 2010 with his wife and two children to Madison, WI, where he carried on his energetic advocacy.

I see a number of lovely remembrances on Facebook. Rick has offered a characteristically poignant one here, and I wanted to share a story, too of my adventures with Hiram. I was working with a local neighborhood association in 2007 and we were hosting a School Board Candidates’ Forum. We needed a moderator and I thought immediately of Hiram. In typical fashion, he accepted. He was generous with his time and energy, and came prepared with the questions and background knowledge that were his trademark. He was gracious and professional throughout and the event went off without a hitch.

Well, maybe one hitch. At the beginning he wanted to gently remind folks to turn off their cell phones, and so he worked out with me a sort of cue in his remarks, at which point I was to place a call to his phone. I’m not saying I was studying my notes and missed my cue. Let’s just say cell coverage isn’t always as predictable as you might like. So there was a brief moment of panic when he arrived at his punch line, looking at the stubbornly silent phone in his hand, and then at me. But then of course Hiram passed it off gracefully and with humor – another typical Hiram characteristic – and there was hearty laughter around the room. And as I say, the event was a success.

Hiram reached out to me and Jay Mitchell a few months ago and we were looking forward to getting together to share a bite and a beer. Something came up and we had to postpone. Never postpone.

Hiram was an outsized influence on people whose lives he touched, and I count myself fortunate to have been one of them.

Deepest condolences to wife Amy and children Megan and Joel, as well as to the many, many people he touched and who will miss him.


There will be a gathering of friends and family on Saturday, 10/3 from 3 to 8pm at Garner Park, 333 S. Rosa Road, Madison. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a non-profit of your choosing.