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Berea College mourns the loss of two notable alums

The inventor of touch screen technology and the first woman and economist to serve as U.S. Secretary of Commerce passed away this week. Both were graduates of Berea College.

Dr. Juanita M. Kreps, '42 and Dr. G. Samuel Hurst, '47

Berea College alumnus and inventor of touch screen technology Dr. G. Samuel Hurst passed away July 4. He was 82.

Dr. Hurst was born on October 13, 1927 in the small community of Ponza in Bell County, Ky. He worked through much of his childhood on the family farm alongside his two sisters and two brothers. He enrolled in Berea College at age 15, and graduated in 1947.

He was presented the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Berea College in 1988.

Dr. Hurst earned his M.A. (1948) from the University of Kentucky and Ph.D. (1959) in physics from the University of Tennessee.

After earning his doctorate, Dr. Hurst started his successful scientific career at the Oak Ridge National Lab in Oak Ridge, TN., where he worked on ultra-sensitive laser-based spectroscopy, among other things.
Dr. Hurst was one of the pioneers of the emerging field of health physics, to which he made lasting contributions in instrumentation and field analysis. He traveled with a team of U.S. scientists to Japan to study latent disease effects and mortality rates among atomic bomb survivors.

Dr. Hurst also worked as professor of physics at the University of Kentucky in the late 60s. On leave from Oak Ridge National Lab in 1971, Dr. Hurst was working at the University of Kentucky and had to read a large stack of strip graphs. The graphs could have taken two assistants two months to complete. Thinking of ways to read the graphs more efficiently, Dr. Hurst devised the electronics graphing coordinates measuring system, which he called Elograph. This was the birth of the revolutionary touch screen technology.

Dr. Hurst held more than 30 patents, authored dozens of scholarly and technical papers, and made numerous inventions during his career.

Berea College alumna, trustee and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Juanita Kreps passed away July 5 after a lengthy illness in Durham, N.C. She was 89.

She was born Blair Juanita Morris in Lynch, Kentucky on January 11, 1921, the sixth child of Elmer and Larcenia Morris. She graduated from Berea College in 1942 and went on to receive her M.A. (1944) and Ph.D. (1948) in economics from Duke University.

She served as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce from 1977 to 1979 during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. She was the first woman and the first economist to serve in this position. Dr. Kreps promoted international trade and led trade delegations to the Soviet Union, Europe, Africa and Asia. She also completed a landmark trade deal with China in 1979.

Dr. Kreps maintained strong ties with Berea College throughout her life. She was a Berea College Alumni Trustee from 1972 to 1977 and later served as a Berea College Trustee from 1980 to 1998. She was an Honorary Trustee since 1998.

She had an illustrious career in academia and taught at Denison University, Hofstra College, Queens College (NY) and Duke University. She also served as dean of the Women’s College at Duke and became vice president of the university.

During her career, she was the author of several books and numerous articles in academic journals on topics such as economics and issues related to gender and age in the workforce. She was the first woman to become director of the New York Stock Exchange, and served on the board of directors of several leading American corporations, including A.T&.T., J. C. Penney, Citicorp, United Airlines, Chrysler Corporation, John Deere and Company, and R. J. Reynolds. Dr. Kreps received many awards and more than a dozen honorary degrees from universities across the U.S.

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