James "Jim" Curtin III, 84, passed away Friday, February 12th, at Chesapeake General Hospital. The previous afternoon, Jim experienced sudden cardiac arrest and never regained consciousness. Jim was at home at the time, sitting in his favorite recliner and talking to his wife Pebble, the person he loved to talk to the most. It was a fitting departure for a man blessed with the gift of gab.
Jim was born the oldest of two boys on December 5th, 1936 in Atlantic City, NJ to James and Mattie Curtin. Jim considered himself lucky to grow up with his numerous cousins among the fishing nets and oyster shell roads of Atlantic, NC. He pleaded unsuccessfully to stay Down East when his family moved to Portsmouth.
Following his graduation from Cradock High School (â€˜54), Jim enlisted in the United States Coast Guard and rose to the rank of Sonarman Second Class. Jim proudly served 4 years of duty aboard several Harbor Entrance Patrol (HEP) vessels before his honorable discharge. Jim's childhood passion for trains and his love of driving then influenced his professional life. He worked 12 years as a brakeman and a conductor on the Norfolk and Portsmouth Belt Line Railroad; he was a Greyhound bus driver for several years; and he "peddled freight" around Hampton Roads for 27 years as a local truck driver for Roadway Express. Jim retired in 1999, but he was never bored.
From competitive shooting of historic artillery in the North-South Skirmish Association to lovingly restoring railroad cars with the National Railway Historical Society, of which he had been President, Jim stayed active. He was involved with numerous organizations, including the Train Collectors Association, the Railroad Museum of Virginia (at Portsmouth), and the Norfolk County Historical Society with which he participated in the Battle of Great Bridge re-enactments. Jim enjoyed being a docent at the USS Wisconsin (BB-64) museum and was a member of the South Norfolk Masonic Lodge #339. His plethora of memberships earned him the nickname "Jim the Joiner" by his best friend Ned Harris. Jim was also an active parishioner at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Chesapeake.
A simple French phrase embodies the life of Jim Curtin, "joie de vivre." (The exuberant enjoyment of life.) For Jim, every meal was the best he ever tasted and every experience was the best one yet. Every book offered new insight, as did every conversation. Just as he never met a stranger, he never saw his cup half empty. It was always half full and the sun was always just over the yardarm. Jim often said, "If I was any better, I couldn't stand it."
Jim is survived by his wife of 39 years Helen "Pebble" Curtin, his five children, David (Monica), Merri Beth, Andrew (Gretchen), Susan (Duke) and Darryl (Elizabeth), and his brother John (Jennifer). Known as Granddad and Pop-Pop, Jim was most proud of his 12 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
A high school assignment for one of Jim's grandsons commemorates the essence of Jim. We invite you to listen: Life Lessons: An Interview with Jim Curtin . available on Jims obituary on Sturtevant Funeral Home website
A memorial service will be held Friday, March 5 at 10am at Sturtevant Funeral Home, Portsmouth Blvd Chapel. Live video streaming will be available through Sturtevant's Website for those unable to attend. Burial will be private in Albert Horton Veterans Cemetery, Suffolk.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Operation Smile, 3641 Faculty Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23453 (operationsmile.org
), or to St Joseph's Indian School, P.O. Box 326, Chamberlain, SD 57326 (stjo.org
Condolences may be made to the family online at www.SturtevantFuneralHome.com