Hugh Jordan Courtney, 87, of Woolwine, Virginia, died unexpectedly at his home on Monday, June 15, 2020. Hugh was born on July 8, 1932, in Chicago, IL, the second son of James and Violet Courtney. As the child of a military officer, he lived in Arkansas, New Mexico, Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama, before settling in the Washington, D.C. area where he attended the University of Maryland. He was graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1955. Hugh’s life spanned three careers. He served as a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy from 1955 to 1963. After the Navy, Hugh earned a master’s degree in Library Science from Catholic University, Washington, D.C., and subsequently worked as head librarian in Prince Georges County, MD. When Hugh found his passion and true calling in the practice and principles of Applied Biodynamics, he ended his library career in 1978 to purchase a farm in the mountains of Woolwine, Virginia. His goal was to stimulate the renewal of exhausted farmland to heal the earth and strengthen our spiritual connection to it.
For decades Hugh crafted herbal remedies according to the principles of Applied Biodynamics. Mentored in this work by Josephine Porter, Hugh founded the Josephine Porter Institute of Applied Biodynamics (JPI) in 1985. He went on to mentor many others, teaching them to make biodynamic preparations at workshops in Woolwine and beyond, where they also found spiritual nourishment and the evolving bonds of community. Moving on from JPI in 2009, Hugh founded Earth Legacy Agriculture with his grandson Jeremiah Proctor to encourage more large-scale agriculture applications of biodynamic preparations to heal ever more land. In his leisure time, Hugh fed the adopted stray cats who trusted only him, joined in good-natured competition with family members in the domino game of Mexican Train, read, cooked, gardened, and followed baseball. He was an avid student of history, often using it to his advantage in Trivial Pursuit. In later years, his farm became a central gathering place for the family from far and wide. He cared for his parents, who came to live with him in the last decade of their lives, with kindness and generosity.
Hugh is survived by his wife, Elisabeth Potter; his children Mark, Elaine, Gwen, and Blair; Elisabeth’s daughter Jenny and granddaughter Zoe; his siblings Don, Bill, and Lynn; his grandchildren Shannon, Jessica, Joshua, Jeremiah, Zachariah, Juliana, and Michael; and his great-grandchildren Zane, Tyler, Brielle, Liam, Ryder, Stella, Odin, Till, and Oaklyn. He was predeceased by his first wife, Shirley Lynn Courtney, and his second wife, Elizabeth Smith Courtney. Hugh’s calling in life was the healing of the earth, which he believed would in turn heal humanity’s spiritual wounds. In lieu of flowers, to honor Hugh Courtney’s legacy donations can be made to the Christian Appalachian Project, Garden and Seeds Program PO Box 55911 Lexington, Kentucky 40555-5911, https://christianapp.org/getinvolved/ways-give/gift-catalog-giving-spirit/seeds-and-vegetable-plants. Plans for a memorial service are pending.