Alabama Academy of Honor


Willard Lee Hurley

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 2002, and in 2014



The city of Gainesville, Georgia, was the birthplace of Willard Lee Hurley on August 1, 1926. The proud parents of this bouncing baby boy were Henry L. Hurley and Cora Laws Hurley.

It was early in his boyhood that Willard Lee Hurley was nicknamed "Jack" by a loving sister. Family members and close friends continue to address him with this nickname.

Jack Hurley attended the schools of both Gainesville, Georgia, and Montgomery, Alabama. He earned an undergraduate degree from Huntingdon College and was awarded a graduate degree from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University. He also attended Columbia University.

Mr. Hurley and his wife, Mary Bell Hurley, are the parents of a son and a daughter and the proud grandparents of six attractive youngsters.

Jack Hurley worked part-time at the First National Bank of Montgomery (now First Alabama Bank) while attending college. Later in 1951 he set up that bank's audit program.

Also in 1951 he accepted a position with the United States Treasury Department as an assistant National Bank Examiner. In 1956 he was promoted to National Bank Examiner and remained in that capacity until 1958 at which time he accepted an invitation to become associated with Exchange Security Bank of Birmingham which is now a part of First Alabama Bank of Birmingham. In l973, Jack Hurley was elected president and Chief Executive Officer of First Alabama Bank of Birmingham, and in 1984 he was chosen Chairman of the Board of the newly-formed First Alabama Bancshares, Inc.

During his extremely busy career, Mr. Hurley has been a caring and affectionate family man and a good neighbor. He has also proven to be an active participant in civic affairs. Among the many useful organizations that have benefited from his thought and energy are the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, Birmingham Chapter of the American Red Cross, and Alabama Symphony Association.

Willard Lee Hurley answered his country's call to duty as a member of its armed services in 1944-46 and again in 1950-51.

Jack Hurley was also the Director of the Hillcrest Foundation. His past positions included, Co-Chairman of the United Way, Chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party 1990-96, Director of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, President of the Alabama Bankers Assn, and Trustee of the Presidents Advisory Council at UAB.

From 1978 to 1983 Mr. Hurley served as an instructor at the Louisiana State University Graduate School of Banking.

Recently Mr. Hurley's alma mater, Huntingdon College, awarded him its coveted Gold Hawk Award in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the business community.
Mr. Hurley passed away January 3, 2014