ORONO - Theodore S. Curtis, Jr., 74, died April 24, 2015 at a Bangor hospital. He was born September 23, 1940, in Bangor, the youngest child and only son of Theodore S. Curtis Sr. and Augusta Tolman Curtis.
Ted graduated from Orono High School in 1958, Bowdoin College in 1962 and Harvard Law School in 1966. Following graduation from Harvard Law, he joined the U.S. Navy, serving his country during the Vietnam War. He was an officer on board the destroyer U.S.S. Henry W. Tucker and at one point served as an advisor to the Republic of Vietnam Navy. But his most important Naval experience happened soon after he was injured in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Ted, who had crushed his leg in an accident at sea, was airlifted to the naval hospital in Subic Bay in the Philippines for treatment. His night nurse, Rose Marie Montero, was very pretty and very sweet. And although he was on crutches and she outranked him, Ted wasted no time. He asked her on a date on the very morning she came into his hospital room to introduce herself. Thinking he was joking, she said, "oh, sure," and promptly went about her work, not realizing until the next day that he had received permission from his commanding officer to take her out and that she had inadvertently stood him up. Undaunted as ever, Ted asked her out again and so began a lifelong romance. He married Rose Marie in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1969 under a flourish of military swords. They celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary earlier this month with much joy and love.
After four years of active duty, during which Ted earned a Bronze Star Medal with a combat "V," Ted and Rose Marie returned to Orono, where he followed his dream to become a small town lawyer. He was a consummate problem solver and enjoyed his work tremendously, often accepting payment in lobsters or lawn care in lieu of money. Ted also served his community in countless ways. He was a lifelong member of the Church of Universal Fellowship, where he sat on various committees and always took great joy in singing in the choir. He enjoyed his work on the boards of Unity College and Lee Academy and he served for many years on the Orono School Committee. He also established the Orono Educational Foundation. Ted was a Kiwanian and was a fixture at the annual Kiwanis Auction, where he was an auctioneer. He also served on many different boards, including the University of Maine Pulp & Paper Foundation and the Maine Veterans Homes.
He entered state politics in the 1970s, serving first in the Maine House of Representatives and later in the Maine State Senate. Ted actually won his first primary race while still in Vietnam. His whole life, he was proud of his work on behalf of the citizens of Maine, especially his role in sponsoring the bill to enable 18-year-olds to vote and the returnable bottle bill. He loved mentoring young politicians and attorneys and was a teacher and role model for public service.
Ted had many projects and hobbies, including baking loaf after loaf of delicious "Ted's Bread" and giving most of it away. He and Rose Marie loved traveling, going to the Penobscot Theatre and providing a home away from home for international students and many others who enjoyed their hospitality. The Curtis Family New Year's Eve Party was legendary in Orono. They also spent many wonderful days at his camp on Williams Island in Casco Bay, where they watched nesting eagles and created a haven for family. Perhaps most of all, he was a dedicated family man and enjoyed doing just about anything with his children and later, with his beloved grandchildren.
Ted was a cheerful, energetic, enthusiastic force for good. We love him and will miss him tremendously and will try to keep his spirit alive for all our days.
He is survived by his wife, Rose Marie Curtis, and four children and their families: Lynn Curtis King, Ben King and granddaughters Katie and Sarah King of Seal Harbor; Lara Curtis Campbell, Jim Campbell and grandson James Campbell of Wetherby, England; Abigail Curtis and James Clark of Belfast; and John Curtis, Sarah Petite Curtis and grandson Kyal Curtis of Wahiawa, Hawaii.
He also is survived by his sisters Mary Curtis Betts, Edith Curtis and Peggy MacDonald and many special cousins, nieces and nephews.
Relatives and friends are welcome to call 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 1 at Brookings-Smith Orono Chapel at 72 Main Street. His funeral will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 2 at the Church of Universal Fellowship at 82 Main Street in Orono. An interment will follow this summer at the Maine Veterans Cemetery in Augusta.
Those who wish to remember Ted in a special way may make gifts in his memory to the Church of Universal Fellowship, 82 Main Street, Orono 04473. They also may contribute to a scholarship in his name to honor local students who show exemplary community service, to be administered through the Maine Community Foundation, 245 Main Street, Ellsworth, ME 04605.