Plaintiff in PA Marriage Equality Lawsuit, Fredia Hurdle, Dies at Age 50

Fredia Hurdle
Fredis (l) and Lynn (r) Hurdle at Decision Day 2014 Rally in Pittsburgh, PA.

 

Fredia Hurdle is remembered as a force of nature by her family and friends in the aftermath of her death on Thursday, August 7, 2014. She is known for her role as a plaintiff in the landmark case that brought marriage equality to Pennsylvania (Whitewood, et al v Wolf, et al) where she and her spouse of 23 years Lynn stood up for the validation and recognition of their commitment and love. Lead attorney and ACLU Legal Director Vic Walczyk remembers her thusly:

Being a plaintiff in the ACLU’s marriage case, Whitewood v. Wolf, revealed another side of this woman, whom I had come to call a friend. The lawyers worried, me included, whether we could keep her focused and serious long enough for a deposition, or to testify at trial. We need not have worried. The deep discussions about love and relationships and fairness brought out a keen insight. Fredia thoughtfully reflected on how, when she was born in Virginia, a white person couldn’t marry a black person, and how it was her home state that several years later produced the groundbreaking Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, which declared miscegenation unconstitutional. Fredia noted the ridiculousness of the fact that she, as a black woman, could marry Lynn, a white person, but they couldn’t marry because they were of the same sex. Fredia often became indignant at the unfairness of it.

Fredia also opened up about the difficulties of not only being a lesbian, but being a black lesbian in an interracial relationship. She told stories of slights and slurs, yet never showed any ill-will toward the bigots. She and Lynn had opened their homes to people in distress, taking in countless relatives’ kids, foster children and even helpless senior citizens. Fredia fondly observed that she didn’t want Lynn and her to be known as the lesbian couple, or the interracial lesbian couple, but simply the nice couple on the corner that’s always there with a smile, a helping hand and even a welcoming home.

Fredia’s impact transcends this court case. She and Lynn raised their daughter and then raised other children from their extended family, as well as caring for elders in need. Her legacy is the lives of the children she raised, the neighbors she welcomed and the strangers she greeted. Her role in bringing marriage equality to our Commonwealth is not insignificant, but more of an extension of the work she did each day of her life.

Fredia’s family has requested in lieu of flowers, please consider monetary donations to help defray their funeral and travel expenses, as well as either Giant Eagle or restaurant gift cards, to give them a little break from the worries of daily life. You can message me at pghlesbian at gmail dot com and I will give you the contact information to send a contribution.

Fredia Lynn Hurdle. Age 50, of Crafton Heights, formerly of Virginia Beach, VA, departed this life on Thursday, August 7, 2014, with family and friends at her side. She was born on October 15, 1963, in Norfolk, Virginia to Rev. Willis M. and the late Addie Odessa Hurdle. Fredia was the beloved spouse of Lynn Hurdle for 24 years and loving parent of Ashley Wise. Over the years, Fredia became a loving guardian to Hayward, Shana and Jovan Smith, and Isaac Franklin. Fredia was the youngest of five children. Her siblings include Cynthia Lynnelle Lightfoot, Geraldine Annette Franklin, and Julius Bernard (Ava) Hurdle, and the late Sharon Hurdle. Fredia is survived by many nieces and nephews; and a host of family and friends. Fredia loved to drive and had spent many years driving for Greyhound. She had been to all 48 continental U.S. States, driving over 1,000,000 miles. Fredia was a Teamster #211 driver for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for over a decade.

Family will receive friends and loved ones on Monday, August 11, 2014, and Tuesday, August 12, 2014, from the hours of 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at SCHEPNER-McDERMOTT FUNERAL HOME, 165 Noble Ave., Crafton, PA 15205 (412) 921-3661.

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.

On a personal note, the last time I saw Fredia was at the Decision Day Rally in May. I was standing with some friends when she and Lynn walked up to greet folks. I remember Fredia clapping her hands and opening her arms to hug our friend Cindy and just laughing with her as she gave her this huge hug celebrating that they were all married. That was before she spoke on the stage, but it is indelibly imprinted in my mind – she was so happy for Cindy and Kathy in that moment, so happy to celebrate with them and make it their day, too. Everyone’s day. That’s a memory I’ll hold close because that’s how I’d like to celebrate community events.

Rest in peace, Fredia. And thank you for everything.

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  • OMG! That is awful. I had the chance to meet them when they spoke at the Persad Potluck dinner in Washington, PA last year. They are the most wonderful couple. It literally brought tears to my eyes listening about all the children they have raised, and have been raising. Fredia truly did her part to make to make the world a better place and change peoples lives for the better. This is a huge loss for the community.

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