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Robert Curtis

Robert Curtis, 98, was born on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 1914, in Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas. He was the sixth of nine children born to the Rev. George Walker Curtis and his wife, Myrtle Ashley Curtis. Reared in a devout home, Robert accepted Christ as his personal Savior at an early age and was baptized in the First Baptist Church of Palacios. He went to be with his Savior on Aug. 16, 2013. He was educated in the public schools of Palacios and attended Baylor University for one year, where he played eight-man football. At the age of 19, in 1933, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps and went to Bastrop, Texas, where he lived for about a year and helped build the Bastrop State Park. One night when he attended a Halloween party at the First Baptist Church, he met the girl of his dreams, Rosalee Edwina Morris, who he married in 1939, at the church where they met. They settled in Houston, where Robert began a 36-year career with Southwestern Bell Telephone, and Rosalee, after finishing a degree in elementary education at Mary Hardin Baylor, began a 40-year career teaching first grade. He volunteered for the service during World War II, but was rejected because of poor vision. When Rosalee was assigned by the Houston Independent School District to the Garden Villas Elementary School in 1940, they purchased their first home in that suburb. They became charter members of the Garden Villas Baptist Church across the street from their house. In 1941, Robert was ordained as a deacon in the first ordination at the church. Both Robert and Rosalee served in whatever capacity the church needed them. Their home across the street was always available for committee meetings, parties or other activities. In June 1953, Robert was transferred by Southwestern Bell to Nacogdoches and this became home for the family, which now included two daughters. Both girls graduated from Nacogdoches High School and attended Stephen F. Austin. Rosalee taught first grade at Fredonia Elementary for 12 years. In 1964, as they began planning for retirement, they purchased 78 acres of land just southeast of Douglass from A.T. Mast Sr. Robert cleared and fenced the land, and built a stock pond, a barn and a small farmhouse. About that same time, with both girls grown and away from home, Robert and Rosalee returned to Houston, where they could earn more money, making an even earlier retirement possible. On weekends the Curtises commuted to their farm in Douglass. In 1973, the City of Nacogdoches condemned their farm property and covered most of the land with Lake Nacogdoches. They sold the remainder and bought 150 acres one mile south of Douglass. In 1975, Robert retired from Southwestern Bell and in the spring of 1977, Rosalee retired from teaching. By the end of summer that year, they were on their new farm. There, Robert raised registered longhorn cattle and operated a dealership for satellite TV receivers. He served as assistant to the Douglass postmaster for several years during his 80s. Robert was always very active and enjoyed serving others. He loved to cook, and in the late 1950s, he convinced the Piney Woods Country Club, where he was a member, to open a kitchen so that he could cook and serve steaks on Friday and Sunday nights, and that soon became very popular. In 1976, lacking a manager, the club asked Robert to be an "interim" manager, just until they could find someone who could be permanent. Under his management, the club grew dramatically in membership, expanded the golf course from nine to 18 holes, built a new brick bathhouse, enlarged and modernized the kitchen, and added a spacious new dining room. After eight years, that "permanent" manager was finally found, and Robert was the first to be given -- in recognition of his service -- a lifetime membership in the club. Soon after being fully retired, Robert and Rosalee bought a Foretravel motor home and enjoyed several years traveling over much of the United States, to include Alaska, many times with one or more of their granddaughters or great-grandsons. Robert delighted in gardening, and especially enjoyed grilling ribs and brisket or frying fish, often to give to friends and/or neighbors. Robert was a member of the Lake Country Telephone Pioneers of America and for many years was active in the Nacogdoches Lions Club. He was chairman of the Douglass and Moral Water System for more than 20 years. In 2006, as Rosalee's health began to fail, they sold the farm and moved back to Nacogdoches in order to meet medical needs. Robert is preceded in death by his parents, his brothers and sisters, and his wife of more than 68 years, Rosalee. He leaves to cherish his memory daughters Carolyn Curtis Gibson (Bill) of Huntsville, Texas, and Evelyn Curtis Schaefer of Houston; granddaughters, Susan Zavell (Peter) of Florence, S.C., Catherine Dauplaise (Jon) of Duluth, Minn., Michele Jones of Canyon Lake, Texas, and Meredith Garcia (Matt) of New Braunfels, Texas; seven great-grandsons; and two great-granddaughters. He also leaves three sisters-in-law, two brothers-in-law, several nieces and nephews and many friends, including very, veyr special Nacogdoches friends, Robert and Jeanne McGraph. The Curtis family would like to express their deep gratitude to Dr. Edwin C. Embargo and his staff, Willowbrook Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center and the Neches House Assisted Living in Lufkin for your incredible care during the past year. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be directed in memory of Robert to the Joslin Diabetes Center Medalist Study, 1 Joslin Place, Boston, MA 02215. Pallbearers will be Harlon Brooks, Samson Perez, Larry Schmidt, Danny Collins, Gary StJohn and John McGrath. Honorary pallbearers will be Jim Harrison and Robert McGrath. Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 18, 2013, at Laird Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, at First Baptist Church in Douglass with the Rev. Josh Luellen officiating. Interment will follow at Douglass Cemetery.
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Published in The Daily Sentinel on Aug. 18, 2013
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