A Tribute to Dr. Harry James Hurley Jr. October 1, 1926–July 26, 2009

Harry James Hurley Jr., 82, practicing dermatologist for 56 years and past president of the American Dermatological Association, died of multiple myeloma Sunday, July 26, 2009. During his career, Dr. Hurley made many contributions to the field of dermatology through his service, practice, research, and writing.

In 1969 he was Founding President of the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology—the only statewide medical organization solely representing the interests and concerns of all dermatologists and their patients in Pennsylvania. He served as chairman of many boards and committees for the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) from 1973 to 1997 and was President of the Philadelphia Dermatologic Society, American Dermatological Association, The Dermatology Foundation, and the American Board of Dermatology.

For many years, he was also Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, where he researched the physiology and diseases of the sweat glands and granuloma formations. Along with colleague Walter Shelley, he developed the Hurley-Shelley axillary resection technique to surgically treat excessive underarm sweating.

During the Korean War, he served in the Army in Kentucky and Boston and did research in cold physiology and cold injury, which were major problems for troops fighting in Korea.

Dr. Hurley also contributed to dermatology through research and writing. He served as the Editor of Archives in Dermatology from 1968 to 1969 and the Journal of Geriatric Dermatology in 1993. He was the author of four books, including the textbook Dermatology, and 128 journal articles and book chapters.

Dr. Hurley graduated from Marple-Newtown High School in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, at 16. He attended St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and graduated as one of the youngest in his class from Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1949. He completed a residency in dermatology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and was Chief of Dermatology at Hahnemann Unversity Hospital and Philadelphia General Hospital.

Through his many years of dedication to the field of dermatology, Dr. Hurley has certainly made his mark and will be missed. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology would like to dedicate this issue to Dr. Hurley to honor his memory.


On a personal note, and beyond his many professional achievements, Dr. Hurley was one of the most accomplished men I have ever met. Indeed, he was one of the last of a generation of men the likes of which this country may never see again; a Renaissance man and a true gentleman. He was born into a family of means, but unlike  others raised in similar circumstances, Dr. Hurley never squandered an ounce of his considerable talent.

Beyond his academic acumen, he was a gifted pianist, and played basketball at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. As a young man, and well into his later years, he played tennis at the highest amateur club level, and was a low single digits golfer well into his seventh decade. In my early twenties, I invited Dr. Hurley to join a group of my contemporaries who played pick-up basketball one evening a week and he joined our group. Though he was then approaching 50 years of age, his fluidity and agility as an athlete coupled with his understanding and respect for the game astonished us. It was always a treat to play a round of golf with him just to witness his graceful swing and respect for the rules and traditions of the game he so enjoyed. His entire life he remained an avid supporter of “St. Joe’s” basketball. He will forever be a “Hawk.” To the end of his life, he could talk sports with a level of insight equal or better than anyone in the stadium.

As accomplished and knowledgeable as he was, Dr. Hurley remained an ever humble and modest man, always interested in others’ opinions, never volunteering advice unless it was sought of him. He and Mrs. Hurley raised five wonderful children. I am friends with them all. His oldest son Harry and I were lifeguard partners as young men, and shared a successful business partnership for many years. He will remain one of my dearest friends for the rest of my life.

Dr. Hurley surely will be missed. However, he had the fullest of lives, which he lived with eloquence and grace. We will not see many more men like him again. Truly a man to be emulated, indeed Dr. Hurley was a true gentleman.

Patrick D. Scullin
Partner, Matrix Medical Communications