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Grant Curtis Obituary

America lost another hero on Saturday, September 28, 2019.  Grant Curtis died peacefully at age 78 after a long hard-fought battle against Parkinson’s disease. Grant personified what makes this country great.  He was born in poverty to Clarence (Bill) Curtis, a young man who worked for one of the big copper mines in Arizona, and his wife Bennie, a young stay-at-home mom.  Grant was the third of 7 children.  His father died when Grant was 8, leaving his family destitute. Bennie moved her family to Coolidge, AZ to be closer to her family.  Grant grew up there in poverty, working odd jobs as a child to earn enough money for food and clothes.  He married Barbara Graham after graduating from high school, and they had 3 children, Jeff, Dawn, and John.  Money was tight and jobs were hard to find for someone with only a high school education, so Grant enlisted in the Army.  That was the turning point in his life.  The Army provided him opportunities that weren’t available to a poor man with little education in rural America in the early 1960s.  After spending some time in the enlisted ranks, Grant grabbed the opportunity to become a pilot, and became a Warrant Officer. He flew Cobra Attack helicopters in Vietnam, proving himself to be a formidable opponent to the enemy and a valuable ally to his brothers in arms.  He was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses for his heroism there.  After Vietnam, Grant continued his career, eventually rising to the top of the Warrant Officer ranks at the time.  His training in the Army provided him the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in civilian life after he retired from the Army. He become a Safety Specialist for the city of El Paso, then an Operations Officer for the El Paso International Airport and finally a Safety Specialist for the Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso.  While in the Army, he divorced Barbara and married Sandra Sinclair, becoming step-father to her 2 daughters Mary Susan and Heather.  After retiring from the Army, he divorced Sandra and married Elizabeth Buckley, who became his partner for life.  They moved from El Paso to Northwest Arkansas. From Arkansas, they moved to Deming, NM so Grant could pursue his passion for hunting agates in the desert southwest. 

While in the Army, Grant re-kindled his love for rocks – a love that his father taught him.  He learned how to cut and polish rocks, and how to make jewelry.  But hunting rocks and then cutting and polishing his finds were his passions.  He practiced and perfected his art until he became known among agate collectors as a world-class polisher.  His works were published in books, and magazines. 

A devout Christian, Grant reveled in the beauty of God’s creation and loved being outdoors hiking in the rugged mountains of Arizona, hunting and fishing in Alaska, and scuba diving in Panama. He loved his God, and loved worshipping with his churches in El Paso TX, Rogers Arkansas, Deming NM and San Angelo TX. His last meal on earth was Holy Communion.

In 2017, shortly after moving to Deming, Grant was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Because his was a strain of the disease that doesn’t respond to the medications, it progressed rapidly, wreaking havoc on his body.  He and Liz decided to move to San Angelo TX so they could be closer to her family and they would be in a larger city with more readily available doctors.  They moved in February 2019, and continued the battle against his disease until his death on Saturday.  He was preceded in death by his parents, 5 of his siblings, one of his half-siblings and his first wife.  He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, his 3 children Jeff, Dawn and John, his brother Keith, half-brother Terry, half-sister Regina, his second wife Sandra and his step-daughter Heather. He is also survived by his granddaughters Audra and Paige and 3 great-grand children, Kaylee, Rylee and Mikey.