On October 4, 2023, long time Helena resident Fred E. Curtis passed away at home, after a four-year battle with congestive heart failure. At the time of his passing, Fred was 92 years old and was being lovingly cared for by his wife Betty and family members.
Fred was born in Bozeman, Montana on March 29, 1931. He was the first son of Fred Curtis Sr. and Grace V. Curtis. Fred’s younger brother Neil L. Curtis was born seven years later.
Fred spent his early childhood in Bozeman, attending elementary school and junior high there. In about 1946, Grace and the two boys moved to Helena, Montana. Fred attended Helena High School, graduating in 1949. While in high school, he worked at a local service station, and enjoyed cars and riding his motorcycles. He met many life-long friends in the class of 49, including his future wife Betty Lou Hebb. Fred and Betty kept in touch with many of their classmates, and attended and helped plan many reunions over the years.
Fred and Betty were married on Feb 26, 1950. They were inseparable, and at the time of Fred’s passing, had enjoyed a loving marriage lasting 73 years. In 1950, the family quickly expanded with the birth of their first son Barry, soon to be followed by son Jeffrey in 1951, and daughter Leslie in 1953.
After a short period as an apprentice plumber, and a brief stint working at the smelter, Fred began a career with Mountain Bell Telephone Company that would last almost 35 years. He began working on the line crew, with the family moving their trailer house to six or seven towns over a three year period. He was then assigned a position in Bozeman, where the family bought their first house. After four years, Fred became Area Telephone Manager in Stanford Montana, spending nine wonderful years there, and with the kids receiving much of their schooling there. In 1968, the family returned to Helena, and Fred spent the rest of his career involved with engineering, engineering supervision, a period of time as State Security Agent, and ending as Manager of payphone service. Fred retired in 1986, at the young age of 55.
Fred, with Betty at his side, spent many years boating at the Gates of the Mountains. After retirement, they bought a motor home and had many adventurous trips around the country, including Alaska, and Mexico. They became avid golfers and have been longtime members of the Green Meadow Country Club. Fred enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life. He was also the ultimate handyman, who could fix about anything (plumbing, electrical, carpentry, mechanical…call Fred).
Fred was very active in the Masons, Shriners, and Scottish Rite for most of his adult life. He was involved in and served as Captain of the Shriner Algeria Temple Drum Corps. He was proud to have achieved 33rd Degree in the Helena Valley Scottish Rite, performing the job of Secretary for six years.
Fred always had a quick wit, and a funny saying for every occasion. Even as his health worsened, he maintained his sense of humor to the very end.
A key focus of Fred’s life was family. He was a devoted husband, a loving, supportive father and grandfather, an upstanding citizen, and a good friend to many. Whether it be coaching, advising, providing emotional or financial support, or pitching in to help, he was always there to support his family and friends, and give back to the community. He will be missed.
Fred was preceded in death by his parents Grace V. Godward and Fred Curtis Sr.; step-father James R. Godward; grandson Ryan Curtis; and son-in-law John Marks.
Fred is survived by his wife Betty at home; brother Neil Curtis (Gwen) in Sun Lakes, AZ; son Barry Curtis (Linda) in Billings, MT; son Jeffrey Curtis (Mary June) in Mount Vernon, WA; daughter Leslie Marks in Belgrade, MT; grandchildren: Robyn Curtis-Rice (Jerry), Wendy Curtis (Sam Melancon), Katie Roden (Brad), Curtis Marks, and Johnna Bittner (Rick); great grandchildren: Cooper Rice, Bridger Rice, Calvin Melancon, Emma Roden, Payton Visser, Brynn Visser, Colin Visser, Soren Bittner; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank St. Peter’s Health Hospice, Angel Care, and Home Instead for their kind and capable in-home care and assistance during the last year.
A memorial service will be held at a later date, yet to be determined.
The family suggests memorials to: Shriners Children Hospital in Spokane. Mail to 911 W. 5thAve, Spokane, WA 99204; call (509) 455-7844; or go to lovetotherescue.com