As a student at Avella, Thelma had known John Curtis, but they never dated. After graduating, something clicked and they were married in 1944.
John worked on Maiden Street for Washington’s first Ford dealership, owned by Bill Husted, who treated John like a son. When he retired, John acquired the business, but remained loyal to Bill. John never put his own name on the business, and after Bill died, quietly, without any fanfare, John took care of Bill’s ailing wife, visiting her every day. That’s the way John was; he was a man who believed in giving back to the people and community that helped shape his life and character.
John and Thelma enjoyed an active life, with frequent golf outings, bowling, and overseas travel with their close-knit bridge group. “John was a very sincere person with a dry sense of humor. He felt an obligation to give back to the community,” said Thelma, his wife of nearly 65 years. “He was involved in so many things.”
That list included working with the March of Dimes, being a Scoutmaster, a generous supporter of Washington Hospital and Immaculate Conception Church, a longtime Kiwanis member, and head of the Immaculate Conception ushers. His lowest profile act of kindness was driving neighborhood children to school. But his first and most loving commitment was to his wife. “I had to be careful what I wished for. If I mentioned anything, he would try and get it for me,” remembered Thelma.
Her husband was also an avid hunter, and when the subject comes up, Thelma flashed her own sense of humor. “When he went hunting I wished him good luck, but warned him: “Don’t bring anything home!’”
Thelma was also busy at the Pennsylvania state employment office, doing job interviews and helping people find jobs. She enjoyed meeting and talking to people in that capacity for 35 years.
As the couple got on in years, John took it as his sacred responsibility to take care, not only of his wife, but also her ailing older sister, Enes, who was confined to the Presbyterian Home and passed away in September 2010.
Always healthy, an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed golf and hunting, he assumed he would take care of his family for many years to come. He and Thelma made the best-laid plans, not only to meet their needs as they aged, but also to create the John & Thelma Curtis Fund as their eventual legacy.
What is it a wise person once said? If you want to hear God laugh, just tell him your plans? God must be laughing now, as he enjoys John’s company and dry sense of humor. John’s friends remember him as a sincere, honorable, caring man, someone who was often sought out for advice.
Over fifty years ago, they were one of the first couples to move into Colonial Woods, just behind the Washington Hospital, when it was first being built. They never moved. Their well-kept yard was always bursting with spring color. “That yard, it was John’s pride and joy,” Thelma remembered.
Thelma was quick to say John never wanted publicity for his good works, and that she only agreed to do this article because it might inspire others to find outlets for their own generosity. “John didn’t want anyone to think he was doing anything for publicity. He truly meant that!”
After losing her life partner, Thelma persevered, bringing to fruition the plans she and John had made to create the John & Thelma Curtis Fund to support the community that they both loved. Both John and Thelma are now deceased and so grants from the fund are recommended by family members.