James David Curtin III
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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 (‘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

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Virginian-Pilot on Feb. 24, 2021.
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8 entries
March 8, 2021
Pebbles - My Jim and I are so very sorry for the loss of such a true gentleman. Your Jim would always brighten any room he entered and could be counted on to add a bit of fun and whimsy to any conversation. When he and my Jim got together there was no stopping them as they would talk, and talk, etc. He will be forever remembered for the smile he carried with him. Jim & Penny Morrisette
Jim & Penny Morrisette
March 4, 2021
a great train guy ,he will be missed
christopher knoop
March 4, 2021
We are so sorry to hear of Jim's death. We were blessed with knowing him through the years as a fellow Parishioner at St. Thomas. Jim shared a love of the Coast Guard with us as he proudly served as did my father, uncle and one of my first cousins. He introduced us to the New Year's Day Locks Park picnic that became our yearly ritual where good food and good stories were shared by all. Jim's enthusiasm in all that he did and said was contagious especially the enthusiasm and pride that he regularly boasted about in his family. We are saddened to hear of his passing, but know that he is in God's capable hands. Jim, rest in Peace.
Semper Fidelis and Semper Paratus, Geoff and Joanne Corson, Rochester, NH
Geoff Corson
March 1, 2021
Crossing bay with Pebble and Jim on Butch Baxters boat to deliver barge sideboard to CC Museum.
A wonderful memory for me.
Jim and Pebble crossing the bay on Butch Baxter’s boat to deliver a Pennsylvania RR sideboard to the Cape Charles Museum.
Bill Neville
March 1, 2021
So sorry to hear this. Jim was a good friend of the Cape Charles Historical Society. I was proud to know him and considered both he and Peeble as good friends even though I didn’t see them frequently. I always enjoyed our conversations and will miss them. He was a most memorable person. Dawn and I offer our deepest condolences to Pebble and family.
Bill and Dawn Neville
Bill Neville
February 25, 2021
To all of the Jimmy family. I am sorry to see Jimmy go but I know he has been in bad health lately. Me and Jimmy are the same age (l am 12 days older). Of all of the cousins (and there are a lot of us) I believe Jimmy enjoyed our family reunions better than any of the rest of us and l will miss talking to him at our reunions. I hope we can have the reunion again this year but I will miss Jimmy.
John Smith jr
February 24, 2021
To Andrew, Gretchen and family. I am saddened to have read about the passing of your father. I was moved by the beautiful words written about his life and of himself. I'm thinking of you and your family at this difficult time. All my prayers, KIMBERLEY LAMKIN
Kimberley Jean Lamkin
February 24, 2021
Jim was a wonderful friend who welcomed all into his heart. He will be missed by so many at St Thomas. Rest in peace, Jim.
Rebecca Young
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