Arthur Wallace Curtis (Art Curtis)
In San Francisco, June 20, 2020, Age 80, of brain cancer. Retired from San Francisco Municipal Railway and U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. Proudly descended from Irish immigrants who arrived in SF between 1837 and 1862, he was a 4th generation Californian and 3rd generation, native born life-long San Franciscan.
He was the life partner of the late John F. Keylon, from 1973-2010, having met at the then famous prime rib house, the "Fickle Fox". Beloved son of the late Arthur Raphael and Mary Jeanne (Dowling) Curtis. Loving adoptive father of Arthur Rodney Curtis, brother of Marybeth Morelock (Gerald), Kathleen A. Behnke, and Anne M. Birmingham. Uncle to over a dozen nephews and nieces and several grand nephews and nieces. He was also well known and loved by the members and friends of John's family and the family of his first partner, the late Michael G. Wynkoop.
After starting school at Star of the Sea, the family moved to the West Portal area in 1948, where Art became a member of the St. Cecilia Grammar School Marching Band (snare and bass drums) graduating in 1954. His education continued at Riordan High School (Class of 1958), SF State College and SF City College. Proud member of SF 143 of the Cub, Boy and Explorer Scouts, he was a member of the Order of the Arrow, Scouting's :Honor Society - Royaneh Lodge. As a teen, he delivered the SF "Shopping News" to 225 West Portal residences. After graduating from Riordan, he entered the Novitiate of the Marianists (Brothers of Mary) in Santa Cruz. After 9 months he decided that was not his calling in life. He then worked as a Parcel Post driver, and later Mail Carrier, for the U.S. Post Office.
An ardent rail buff since his very early youth, he fulfilled his dream of becoming a streetcar motorman when he was employed by SF MUNI at the age of 21, later also driving trolley buses, diesel buses, and as a conductor on the Cable Cars. He worked his way up through the MUNI ranks as a Night Transit Dispatcher, Transit Service Inspector, and Asst. Chief Transit Control Inspector. He retired in 1999 with over 37 years of service to the people of San Francisco in the management position he loved most, that of Chief Transit Control Inspector, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the MUNI through a staff of Assistant Chief Inspectors and Transit Inspectors for over 20 years. In this position he was also MUNI's Special Events Coordinator, planning and directing MUNI's response to major and minor events in the City.
He was also a 36 year veteran of the United States Coast Guard Reserve, enlisting in 1960 and holding all 9 enlisted ranks from Seaman Recruit to Master Chief Boatswain's Mate by 1980. He then received a Direct Commission to Lieutenant (Junior Grade) and retired in 1996 as a Lieutenant Commander. He held two reserve unit commands at Coast Guard Stations Bodega Bay and Fort Point, and performed various leadership capacities at CG Reserve units in RIo Vista, Morro Bay, Monterey Bay and numerous SF Bay Area units, including his last assignment at USCG Integrated Support Command, Alameda. During his career, he completed Reserve Training tours on board Coast Guard cutters Dexter, Tanager, Campbell, Point Chico and Point Bridge.
His personal tradition of service to his country and to others led him to be very active in the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, holding many local and state-wide offices, including President of the ROA Department of California in 1998. From late 1999 until his passing, he was the Department Executive Secretary. Accepted into the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (Knights Templar) as a Knight, he was subsequently promoted to Knight Commander and then to Grand Officer. He was also Prior VII of the SMOTJ Priory of Saint Francis from 2007-2009. Separately, he was the Lead Knight of the Knights of St. Cecilia Church for many years.
He was a long-time member of the Bay Area Electric Railroad Association and was a founding member of its Western Railway Museum at Rio Vista Junction near Fairfield. He was also a member of the Board and Corporate Secretary of the Market Street Railway, the non-profit organization dedicated to working with MUNI to preserve historic public transit in San Francisco, primarily the "F" historic streetcar line and the Cable Cars.
Known as an active advocate for Veterans, he was member of many Veterans Service and other organizations, including, among others, the California State Commanders Veterans Council (serving as its Legislative Officer); on the Board of Directors of the USS San Francisco (CA-38) Memorial Foundation, where he was also Secretary/Treasurer; on the Board of Directors and Secretary of the SF Korean War Memorial Foundation; member and secretary of the Northern California Coast Guard Retiree Council; and chaplain of the San Francisco Commandery of the Naval Order of the United States.
Finally, he actively supported many other organizations with his membership and participation, including the Military Officers Association of America; SF MUNI Inspectors Club; the SF based British/American Officers "Queens Club"; USCG Chief Petty Officers Association; US Naval Institute; Navy League; American Legion; Marines Memorial Club; Marine Corps League; Orange Empire Railway Museum, and the Medallion Society of San Francisco Opera.
In August of 2018, he was pushed onto a serious sidetrack by a seizure of the lower-left brain lobe, which substantially reduced his active participation in his many organizations. Shortly before leaving us Art wrote the following:
"Most of you who knew me, whether family, or friends, or associates from the many military & civilian organizations to which I belonged, know that for most of my life I have been a "turn & burn" kind of guy! I always enjoyed working hard in my 37-year full-time career at MUNI, and my 36-year part-time career in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, reaching positions of leadership and responsibility in both, of which I am extremely proud, and having the ability to meet many challenges and to solve problems.
I had planned to try to "turn & burn" pretty close up to the end, but the serious health issue which popped out of the blue meant that I had to wind down rather quickly, which was totally disconcerting, although it did give me the opportunity to complete a few small back burner projects that required some mental but not much physical effort.
So to all of you who knew me, I can only say that you were part of what was for me, an extremely joyous life, and I thank you for being part of my life and helping me to achieve and to enjoy all that I was able to do over the many years of my life."
Art's remains have been cremated. A private family memorial mass will be held. Internment will be at a later date at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Art may be made to
The Western Railway Museum, 5848 State Highway 12, Suisun City, CA 94585-9641; or to the USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 318063, San Francisco, CA 94131-8063; or
The Market Street Railway, 870 Market St, Ste 803, San Francisco, CA 94102-2904