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David Curtiss

| July 14, 2005 12:00 AM

David Robert Curtiss, 84, died July 7, 2005, at his home at Fortine, after battling a weakening heart for a number of years.

The second son of Alvin and Mary Alice Curtiss, David was born on Aug. 13, 1920, at the family's Deep Creek homestead near Fortine.

He attended the Fortine School and after graduating from Lincoln County High School at Eureka attended Benson Polytechnical Institute at Portland, Ore.

After completing aircraft instrument technical training, David worked for civil service before enlisting in the Army Air Force during World War 11. He was first stationed at Spokane's Geiger Air Force Base.

During active service in the 8th Air Force in the European Theatre, Staff/Sgt. Curtiss was attached to the 853rd Air Engineer Squadron where he served as a member of flight crews and as an instrument technician helping patch up disabled B-17s returning from missions over Europe. He was one of the first Montanans to be discharged under the point system in 1945.

He survived a plane crash as he hitchhiked home via Casablanca and Brazil because the Air Force, still engaged in the Japanese sector, had no transport for returnees.

David led the V-J Day parade at Gore Hill in Great Falls, where later in 1945 he married former schoolmate Aubyn Armstrong at the base chapel.

Immediately after his discharge, David enlisted in the Army Air Force Reserve for another three years. In addition to two honorable discharges and the good conduct medal he was awarded the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal.

His position at Geiger Field that had been held open for him, but the couple wanted to return to Montana, where they conducted a logging and mill iperation until a trip to Alaska turned into a three-year adventure with Morrison Knutson-Peter Kiewit building the Alaska Railroad Terminal and the Ladd Air Force Base.

Love of Montana and aging parents brought the couple back to Fortine where they launched a family operated wholesale-retail Christmas Tree business.

David was employed by the U.S. Forest Service, serving as fire control officer at the Murphy Lake Ranger Station until his retirement in 1975.

He was proud to be a native Montanan, loved horses and was an avid hunter and fisherman. One of his treasured experiences was participating along with his brother Larry and his family in the Montana Centennial Cattle Drive.

David served as a 4-H leader, helped organize the Blue Sky Riders Saddle Club, belonged to the Back Country Horsemen, Eureka Post No. 6786 of the VFW, and helped organize the Fortine-Trego-Stryker Fire Department and the refuse system in Lincoln County. He was a lifetime member of the Fortine Community Church and belonged to Local 202 of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

Preceded in death by his parents, brothers Charles and Alonzo and an infant brother, David is survived by his wife Aubyn, daughter Sue, sons David Marcell and Gareth, brother Larry and his family, grandchildren Patrick, Heath, Amber, David Marcell Jr., and Aubyn Bluette, great-granddaughter Rachel Ann, and numerous cousins, including Grace Johnston, Lew Curtis and Ruth Pomeroy.

Services were conducted at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Fortine Community Church with Dr. David Kaufman officiating. Interment with military honors followed at the Fortine Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Fortine Fire Department or the Eureka Ambulance.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Nelson & Vial Funeral Home at Eureka.