Curtis Bryan Burrows, 82, of Yuba City, CA, passed away July 17, 2014, following a short illness.
Curt was born October 7, 1931, in the old Yuba City Hospital, on Plumas Street south of Colusa Avenue, to William and Ruby Arritt Burrows.
Curt and his brothers Jim and Vern grew up in Yuba City, living on Second Street until Curt was 4 and then on Jones Street. The boys and their numerous cousins roamed their neighborhoods with elementary school buddies, often leaving mischief in their wake.
From the beginning, Curt was the salesman, the wheeler-dealer, of the bunch, finding and, in some cases, creating ways to make money. Working at odd jobs at the Donner Lake resort his mother ran while he was growing up, he walked up to one of the guests, Western movie star Leo Carrillo, and talked him into letting him wash the fancy car he was driving. Paid afterwards in as many silver dollars as he could hold, he said his only regret was not having bigger hands.
Following a stint in the U.S. Air Force in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Curt married Lee Toulou and the couple settled into a lifetime of serving their growing family and the community.
Curt joined the Marysville Fire Department in the early 1950s, retiring in 1987. Early on he gained a reputation as the fire house chef, a skill he had picked up from his father and other family members, and a skill he shared with the community on occasions.
One of his famous meals at the department was the annual Buck Stew dinner. His family tells the story that one year the meat market had no buck meat. Saying he had to have something close, Curt brought back some kind of beef. That year's buck stew had no buck meat but no one was the wiser.
He was named Firefighter of the Year while employed with the department. Curt also worked for a time at the Marysville Post Office and his children recall he would pick up additional jobs on his days off from the fire department to provide things his family wanted. He filled in for Santa Claus at a Yuba City department store for a number of years and for holiday events involving the fire department. He and Lee made Christmas a special event in the Burrows' homes.
Curt was known as a go-to fundraiser and was quick to go door-to-door among businesses to raise money and other donations for schools and charitable organizations.
Curt always had a love of automobiles and he talked often of his first car, a 1933 Hudson Essex Terraplane. Almost every story he told began with the kind of car he had at the time. After leaving the fire department, Curt went to work as a salesman for Daoust Chevrolet in Marysville and consistently was the top salesman on the lot.
At the heart of Curt's life was his family. With Lee at his side, their homes were gathering places for young people, usually including two of the Burrows' nephews. All were nurtured and encouraged to excel in whatever endeavor they chose, especially the arts. On one occasion, he struck a deal with a neighbor who had a larger house that could hold more kids. The families swapped houses.
If family was at the heart of Curt's life, music was at the center. Raised in a musical family, Curt surrounded himself with music, helping to launch a number of bands, including Jezebel Cain, out of the family's home. On his days off from the fire department, he launched Studio Sea, a recording studio based in Wheatland. Later, when the need for quality live sound grew in the area, he partnered with Larry Badger to found Joyful Sound. The two worked together providing sound for festivals, concerts and theatrical productions. They provided audio for live concerts on the local cable television outlet and provided sound for Way, Way, Way, Off Broadway. Along the way, Curt co-produced a CD with the Feather River Singers, a group of Native American drum singers. It was nominated for a Native American Music Award. He retired from Joyful Sound in 2005.
Earlier this year, Curt, his late wife Lee, and their son, Michael, were recognized by the Yuba-Sutter Butte'es for their contributions to local music.
Always neatly pressed and dapper in appearance, Curt had a twinkle in his eye when he smiled or told jokes. He was a renaissance man who was comfortable with almost anyone he met. He was a music producer, fire fighter and helped set off fireworks shows on the Fourth of July in Marysville. He was a fan and supporter of the San Francisco Giants, enjoyed jazz and opera and volunteered for the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council, the California Prune Festival, the Bok Kai Festival and Beckwourth Frontier Days. He also was a talented poet.
Through it all he was a strong supporter of Lee, whether in her role as mother and counselor for the young people who gathered in their home or as director of the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council, now known as Yuba-Sutter Arts. Curt always was there in the background helping to quietly turn her vision into reality.
Curt was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lee; his mother, Ruby E. Arnoldy; his stepfather, Francis Arnoldy; his father, William E. Burrows; his stepmother, Norma Burrows; and a brother, Jim Burrows.
Survivors include four daughters, Lyndah Christy (Ken), Lanny Harris (Glen), Angela Killon (Jim) and Shaunee Kang (Sinil); a son, Michael Burrows; four brothers, Vern Burrows (Janet), Rusty Burrows (Debbie), Sandy Burrows (Donna) and Mickey Burrows (Kay); two sisters, Wendy Houtz (Randy) and Jo Allen; 14 grandchildren; 20 great-grandchildren, a great-grand daughter and numerous nieces and nephews, including Tommy Burrows and Randy Burrows (Susan).
A memorial will be held at Ruthy's Bar and Oven in Yuba City at 3:00 p.m. August 16, 2014.
On behalf of Curt's family, we would like to thank Sutter North Hospice and staff for their services, especially Roxanne Miles and Sandy Gless for keeping our dad smiling and laughing.
Donations to Sutter North Hospice or Yuba-Sutter Arts (Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council), are suggested in lieu of flowers.
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Published in Appeal Democrat from July 23 to July 27, 2014