Joseph C. Curtis

WORCESTER, Mass. - Joseph Colcord Curtis of Worcester, Mass., died on Jan. 22, 2013. He was born in Manchester, N.H., on Feb. 14, 1930, to Mary Evelyn (Perkins) and Harold Johnson Curtis, and grew up in Derry, N.H.

He attended Pinkerton Academy, where he excelled as a student and athlete, playing varsity baseball and helping to lead Pinkerton to its 1947 Class B State Basketball Championship. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 15.

After graduating from Pinkerton in 1947, Joe attended Cornell University as the recipient of a Cornell National Scholarship, graduating with a B.A. in zoology in 1951. He then served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955, first as a combat information center officer and later as an operations instructor at Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. After leaving the Navy, he attended Brown University, where he earned a Ph.D. in biology. He subsequently completed a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship before joining the faculty of Clark University in Worcester.

Dr. Curtis was a professor of cell biology at Clark University for 35 years. At Clark, he became known as a passionate and talented educator who challenged his students to meet high academic standards. He advised many undergraduate and graduate students who went on to pursue careers in medicine, scientific research and teaching. He was also actively engaged in research, publishing numerous articles in refereed medical and scientific journals.

As a boy, Joe worked on local farms, an experience he replicated for his children by leasing and working land in Leicester while they were growing up. He also enjoyed hiking and skiing the Presidential Range in the White Mountains and working as a camp counselor on Lake Winnipesaukee. As a father, he loved spending time with his family on Newport, R.I., beaches and camping on Prince Edward Island. In retirement, Joe gardened at home and enjoyed restoring antique furniture at the Worcester Center for Crafts.

Joseph is survived by his wife, Carolyn (North) Curtis, and their four children, Jennifer N. Curtis of Woodinville, Wash., Katherine A. Curtis and her partner, Lisa Turnbaugh, of Needham, Rachel E. Curtis of West Roxbury, Andrew C. and his wife, Alexandra (Cohen) Curtis, and their children, Sophie, Ben, William and Grace of New York, N.Y. In addition, he leaves a sister, Joan Hall of Topsham, Maine, and a brother, Paul Curtis of Lompoc, Calif.


services: Details regarding a memorial service, which will be held in the next month, will be published shortly. Inquiries may be made to the Athy Memorial Home in Worcester.

Dr. Curtis' family has established a scholarship in his name at Clark University. Contributions may be sent to Carole Allen Scannell at Clark University, University Advancement, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610.

Published in Union Leader on Jan. 27, 2013