WILLIS LANSING CURTIS
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WILLIS LANSING CURTIS WOODSTOCK - Willis Lansing Curtis died at home in his ninety-fourth year, on April 18, 2011. He was born on Sept. 25, 1917, in Marlborough, Mass., son of John Arnold and Dorothy Rumsey Curtis. Will attended Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn., and graduated from Vermont Academy in 1936. He was married to Jane Pitkin of Scituate, Mass., in 1940. Although the fourth generation of a shoe manufacturing family, he loved the outdoors, and with wife Jane moved to Vermont to raise Jersey cattle and run a dairy farm, both in West Hartford and in Hartland. In the 1960s, realizing that small-scale farming was not viable, the couple bought the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock. Advertising for the Yankee Bookshop on radio station WNHV led to another career as a radio commentator. His program on Vermont Public Radio, "The Nature of Things," was one of the first to address environmental concerns. It was heard from coast to coast, even in Barrow, Alaska. His commentaries were compiled in two books, The Nature of Things and The Second Nature of Things. In collaboration with Frank Lieberman, Will and Jane published the art history book, Monhegan, the Artists' Island. In all, they published six books ranging in subjects from Calvin Coolidge's Vermont years to the history of the Green Mountain Club. With Jane, Will participated frequently in Tony Adams's popular WCAX television show, "Across the Fence." For many years he took voice lessons and performed in numerous plays at Woodstock's Little Theatre and in the St. James Church choir. He loved anything to do with the outdoors: spring skiing in Tuckerman's Ravine, fly fishing on the White River, backpacking on the Long Trail. In his 70s he discovered the delights of watercolor painting. Best of all, he loved sitting around the dining room table surrounded by his family and dear friends. He was president of the Woodstock Historical Society and on the Board of Directors of the Vermont Institute of Natural History. He represented Hartland as Representative in the Vermont General Assembly in 1963, serving on the Conservation and Development Committee. With Jane he traveled from the Arctic to Patagonia, even tracking Siberian tigers in the Russian Far East. He was predeceased by his parents; four brothers; and a daughter, Elizabeth. He is survived by his wife, Jane; daughter, Katherine Curtis Donahue and her husband, William Johnston Donahue of Hartland; his sister, Louise Hahn of Ontario, Canada; three grandsons, Thomas, Samuel, and James; a great-granddaughter, Alex Helena Donahue-Ochoa; his sister-in-law, Eleanore Marshall, and his first cousin, Virginia Clark, both of Marlborough, Mass.; and many nieces and nephews. Services will be held at St. James Episcopal Church, Woodstock, on May 7, 2011, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Vermont Institute of Natural Science, 6565 Woodstock Road, Rte. 4, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059; or to the Woodstock Historical Society, 26 Elm Street, Woodstock, VT 05091. Arrangements are under the direction of the Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock. Condolences may be expressed at Cabotfh.com


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Published in The Burlington Free Press on Apr. 20, 2011.
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Memories & Condolences
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11 entries
April 27, 2011
Dear Jane and family,
We have had the pleasure of getting to know Will while volunteering at Billings Farm. We have many fond memories of him.
We extend to you and your family our deepest condolences.
Lynn, Helen and John Kennedy
April 23, 2011
Dear Jane,
We will all mis Bill very much. I have fond memories of the trips I took with you and will. To England. to Far Eeatern Russia, to France and the many hikes that we went on with the Ottauquechee section of G.M.C.
Sincerely,
Don Whitney
Don Whitney
April 23, 2011
Jane, Am so very sorry to hear of Will's passing. Feel so fortunate that I was able to meet and enjoy both of you. Know Will will be sorely m,issed by all. So sorry I wasn't in Vermont to experience Will's various careers! What a busy gentleman. May God Bless you,
Jane Varnum
April 23, 2011
On Willis Lansing Curtis, As He Lay Dying

Will had a voice that everyone well knew,
Broadcast each day just as the sun went down,
He spoke of bats and moles, of sky and ground -
And listeners loved his sympathetic view.
His VPR programs revealed a few
Conditions of the natural world around
Us, yet unknown, about which the fine sound
Of his rare voice revealed that which is true.

And now he passes from this life, from us -
And with him dies his fierce love of this earth,
This sky, and all that therein lives and dies.
He knew it, felt it: Nature's primal worth.
Will never hiked with sticks or staff in hand,
And never doubted God was in the land.
William Donahue
April 23, 2011
WILLIS LANSING CURTIS, AS HE LAY DYING

Will had a voice that everyone
well knew,
Broadcast each day just as the sun
went down.
He spoke of bats and moles, of sky
And ground -
And listeners loved his sympathetic
view.
His V.P.R.programs revealed
a few
Conditions of the natural world
around
Us, yet unknown, about which
the fine sound
Of his rare voice revealed
that which is true.

And now he passes from this life,
from us -
And with him dies his fierce love
of this earth,
This sky, and all that therein
lives and dies.
He knew it, felt it:
Nature's primal worth.

Will never hiked with sticks or staff
in hand,
And never doubted
God was in the land.
William Donahue
April 22, 2011
Jane, We were sorry to hear of Will's passing. We have memories of a backpacking trip to Yellowstone 30 years ago,visiting your home, and finding Will at the History Expo in Tunbridge. We will miss his voice and stories on the Nature of Things. You are in our thoughts. Andy and Carlene Squires
Carlene Squires
April 21, 2011
John and I were so sorry to learn of Will's passing. I wish you were on Monhegan so I could give you a giant hug. We are thinking of you. If you need anything please call.
Winnie Murdock
April 20, 2011
IT'S JUST THE WAY IT IS, RIGHT JANE. I LOVE YOU....AND KATE AND MY SINGING BUDDY, WILL. I'LL KEEP SINGING WITH WILL..HOW HE WILL BE MISSED. all those wills....x0 KRIT
April 20, 2011
My sincerest sympathies to the Curtis family. I am one of many who enjoyed the programs put on by Jane and Will Curtis. What wonderful memories Will and Jane have created for us all. Thank you.
Lynn
April 20, 2011
An era has passed. A highlight of my day was one of Will's periodic visits to the Bookshop. He would sit up in the Vermont section and regale customers with wonderful stories. He was missed long before his passing.
Susan Morgan
April 20, 2011
Kate - my condolences on the passing of your Dad. Prayers are with you and your family.
Carol Rumrill
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