Civic volunteer John Curtis dies at age 54

John Curtis -
John Curtis
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The man as responsible as anybody for the modern-day face of Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day festival, has died.

John Curtis died at his West Bremerton home of a sudden, apparent heart attack on Saturday, April 20.

He was 54.

For 19 years, Curtis served on the Armed Forces Day committee and was its chairman for nine years.

Health problems in recent years forced him to take a less active role in the festival.

“He was the quiet guy behind the scenes that got the dirty work done,” said Silvia Klatman, executive director of the Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce which sponsors the festival. “He did everything from handling the Porta-Potties to making sure people were along the (parade) route, with radios.”

Curtis died exactly seven years to the date he was first hospitalized for a rare blood disease that nearly took his life. After that health episode, Klatman said Curtis changed.

“He put more into relationships,” Klatman said. “He didn’t take stressful situations ever as seriously. He got his second chance and he didn’t blow it.”

In recent years, Curtis had begun a successful paper and document-shredding business with partner Dennis Stevens, with clients in Kitsap, Pierce and Jefferson counties.

“The business is going to continue,” Stevens said. “John had made that decision. He was one helluva good boss. He was more like a brother than a boss. He’s going to be missed.”

Fred Miles Watson, an editor with the Kitsap Newspaper Group, had known Curtis since 1973 when both served in the Philippines in the Navy.

“He was a quiet giant who carried a big stick,” Watson said, “He got things done in the community.”

Watson said Curtis had one philosophy on civic volunteering.

“What you take from the community, you must give back,” Watson said.

Curtis was born in Bremerton on June 18, 1947, to Edgar and Betty Bromley Curtis. He graduated from East High School in 1965 and attended both Olympic College and City College in Bremerton.

He served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years as a Yeoman and later joined the Washington National Guard, rising to the rank of major. He also worked at radio stations KBRO-AM and KITZ-AM in Kitsap County.

He worked in federal service at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center at Keyport before retiring in 1995.

He enjoyed hydrofoil boat racing. He was actively involved in many major community events including Silverdale’s Whaling Days as well as Bremerton’s Armed Forces Day.

He is survived by his wife, Robin Lee Wright Curtis; his mother, Betty Bromley Cooper of Bremerton; a sister, Janet Kennedy of East Bremerton; a son, Jason Kangas of Wheaton, Ill.; four daughters, Josie Curtis of Jacksonville, Fla., Mary Spriggs of Bellevue, Ill., Lea Curtis of Bremerton and Kimberly Reed of Martinez, Calif.; three grand-children and numerous nieces and nephews.

A graveside service was held Friday, April 26 at Haven of Rest Cemetery in Gig Harbor. Memorial donations may be made to the Charleston Baptist Church, 1302 Lafayette St. Bremerton, WA. 98312.

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