OCEAN CITY — An era ended this week with the retirement of Ocean City Lifesaving Station Museum curator Sandy Hurley, whose family has been at the helm of the iconic facility at the south end of the Boardwalk for over half a century.
Hurley was feted with a special retirement ceremony by the Mayor and Council at City Hall on Monday, fortunately during one of the first in-person sessions in months. Hurley’s late father-in-law George Hurley, a former Ocean City councilman and Worcester County Commissioner, was one of the founders of the museum in the 1970s when the old and dilapidated lifesaving station was moved from up the beach to its permanent home at the foot of the Boardwalk where it became the museum.
Her mother-in-law Sue Hurley was the museum’s first curator and ran the prized facility from 1978 until 2010. Sandy Hurley first started working for the town of Ocean City in 1981 as an executive secretary and became the curator of the Lifesaving Station Museum in 2010 upon the retirement of Sue Hurley. Therefore, a Hurley has been the curator of the museum since its inception, a span of 52 years.
“It’s always difficult when we see employees and those we work with all these years move on to other things,” said Mayor Rick Meehan.
Meehan recalled meeting Sandy Hurley decades ago on the Boardwalk.
“I met Sandy long before she worked for the town of Ocean City,” he said. “I had a store in the George Washington Hotel on the Boardwalk and there was a young lady, I think she was about 12, working as a switchboard operator behind the desk.”
The mayor pointed out the Hurley family’s history in Ocean City and praised Sandy for shepherding the museum all these years.
“Her mother-in-law Sue Hurley was the first curator, and when Sue retired, Sandy took the job,” she said. “The museum has remained one of the focal points and really one of the treasures of the town of Ocean City under your leadership. You really have played an important role in Ocean City and you know the history because of your family’s history.”
The Ocean City Lifesaving Station was built in 1891 and was used by the town’s “surf men” for decades as they responded to shipwrecks off the coast and saved many lives. The U.S. Coast Guard used the facility until 1964. In 1977, it was scheduled for demolition before a group of concerned citizens, including George Hurley, saved the building and moved it to its current location, where it became the museum.