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In loving memory of
Bird Ernest Curtiss
  • September 04, 1935
  • -
  • April 01, 2022

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Obituary

Bird Ernest Curtiss, 86, passed away at home in Ocala, Florida, on April 1, 2022, with his loving wife Betty at his side, after a difficult battle with Progressive Bulbar Palsy, a variant of ALS.

Bird, also known as “Sonny,” was born to Mortimer & Gladys Curtiss in Basin, Montana. He grew up in Deer Lodge, Mt. He married Mary Ann Ivers in 1954 and had five children. He worked in the logging and mining industry to provide for his family.

Moving to Alaska in 1969, Bird quickly made friends and moved the family.  Alaska was his home for 39 years.  He had a successful career as a traveling Master Mechanic with the Local 302 Operating Engineers, but he wanted to be home with his family.  So he found work that would allow him to spend time at home with family working as an Alaska Airlines Property Maintenance Manager before starting his own construction company,

“Curtiss Construction Inc.” was born, and Bird became a respected and sought-after builder building log homes and other quality homes in and around Fairbanks, Alaska.  He branched out to commercial building of cabins and the Lodge expansion at Chena Hot Springs Resort.  When the home building crisis hit Alaska, Bird went on to doing remodeling of foreclosures for the Banks.  Then, he was offered and accepted the position of General Manager for Chena Hot Springs Resort.  Here Bird learned he had a love for cooking.  Still, his favorite part of this job was the evenings when he spent his time entertaining worldwide guests, reciting the poetry of Robert Service. Some of the poems he was famous for reciting were “Spell of the Yukon ” and “The Ballad of Blasphemous Bill,” to name a couple.  The people would fill the lodge, and Bird brought the poetry to life.

Bird, being a passionate craftsman, could be found in his workshop throughout his retirement years; he loved working on gifts for family and friends when he was not traveling.  Bird and Mary Ann traveled North America by motorhome to visit with Family and Friends returning to Alaska for the summers and snowbirding in winter.  Visiting with family and friends was one of the happiest and best pastimes.  Family and friends meant the world to him.

In 2007 after the passing of Mary Ann, Bird left Alaska one more time in his motorhome.  Again, he traveled to visit family and friends along the way.   Finally, he headed to Florida, where a new romance began.   Betty Steele & Bird Curtiss had found their soulmate, and they lived happily married for 14 years.  They enjoyed traveling together near and far for a few years before settling down and moving from Orlando to Ocala.  Family and friends alike could feel and see the love these two had for one another.  Betty took care of Bird until his dying day, loving and comforting him without a doubt of their love for each other.

Anyone who knew Bird knew that he was the most loving son, brother, friend, husband, father a family could ask for.  Bird was predeceased by his parents; his wife of 52 ½ years, Mary Ann (Ivers) Curtiss, daughter Nancy Lee Herbst, son Robert Eugene Curtiss; his sisters and brothers,  EvaBelle (Curtiss) Duncan, and Clifton & Clifford Gottbreht, Joyce Webb Curtiss, Narcico “Chico” Ortiz Curtiss.

The family who survives Bird are his beloved wife, Betty (Steele) Curtiss, and son James Dennis Curtiss of Ocala, Fl. His daughters and son-in-laws Beverly (Lloyd) Schommer of Bella Vista, AR., and Bonita (Jim) Mason of  Fairbanks, Ak., his daughters by extension and much love, Angie Steele of Lake City, Brenda Baillargeon of Cocoa, Fl,  and Sheryl Steele of St Augustine, Fl.; His grandchildren are Crystal Ann Schulz, Daniel Herbst, Angela Marie (Schulz) Beck, Douglas Herbst, Kacie Ann Mason, and Leah DeAnn Curtiss. His great-grandchildren are Johnathan Andrew and Joshua Daniel Burnette,  Samantha Nicole and Alexander Paul Lantz, Mystique Mason, and Emily Rayne Beck.  His great-great-granddaughter is Adaline Elizabeth Lantz;  Bird’s sisters & brothers, Darlene Curtiss Conn, Ronnie Curtiss, Eva Montes Adsitt Curtiss, Joan Torres Reed Curtiss, Carol Rodriguez Curtiss Zado, Ina Rodriguez Curtiss Martin, Ida May Curtiss Nerdrum, Birdie Curtiss Marciel, Juanita Curtiss Adames, Mort Curtiss, Cymon Anthony “Tony” Curtiss, Aremandy “Mandy” Curtiss Rossland; and many near and dear close Nieces and Nephews.

There will be no services. However, we invite everyone to visit the Memorial page and share their memories, stories, photos, and condolences with the Family on the Tribute Wall pages. https://baldwincremation.com/obituaries/bird-ernest-curtiss/

In place of flowers, please donate to The Gleason Team for ALS Patient Assistance https://teamgleason.org/ or Kindred Hospice 1320 SE 25th Loop #101, Ocala, Fl, 34471 https://www.kindredhospice.com/locations/kindred-hospice-ocala/


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  1. Bunny says:
    19 Apr 2022
    I was asked if I needed a keepsake….
    No! I have my keepsake in my heart and sole… My Daddy!
    The treasures he gave,…seen and unseen.
    And so many whatnots… his knowledge, love, humor. Work ethic. So much more. To much to list.
    All this not just to me but All he loved! Keepsakes! I think not. I feel so blessed that Bird Curtiss is my daddy.
    More importantly the treasure of his love, devotion, unconditional! I will miss our Sunday calls Daddy! Will be sending them to heaven from now on… talk later Dad!
    Daddy I miss you so❣️

  2. Bunny posted an image:
    14 Apr 2022
    An amazing time with Dad & His Sister Aunt Darlene.  Such amazing people!<br />
The fights,. the Love just wow❣️
    An amazing time with Dad & His Sister Aunt Darlene. Such amazing people!
    The fights,. the Love just wow❣️

  3. Angelia Steele says:
    12 Apr 2022
    Bird, I will miss you more than you could ever know! Thank you so very much for making my mom so happy and thank you for all you did for me. I love you and I will see you again.

  4. Ron & Judy says:
    09 Apr 2022
    Dear Bette, Jim, Beverly and Bunny: our deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband and father. Bird was a very talented person and will be missed by everyone who knew him. Our thoughts and prayers to you. Love, Ron, Judy, Ken, Glen, Q and Hemi.

  5. Ron & Judy lit a candle:
    09 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 9, 2022 at 4:30:37 PM

  6. Kathy Buckley lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:18:47 PM

  7. Kathy Buckley says:
    08 Apr 2022
    Love you Uncle Sonny Give Mom and Dad and everyone else hugs from us!

  8. Bunny lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:17:50 PM

  9. Allen Conn says:
    08 Apr 2022
    Theres not a man I have held in higher esteem than Bird (Sonny). I miss his big old laugh with his big bushy beard with those two tufts of white hair that later all turned white.
    A man of integrity, skill and down right common sense. He always seemed to have an answer especially when it came to how to. He always had a lot of great ideas. Remember the Volkswagen beetles he cut in half and made a hunting buggy out of them.
    His help for Kathy and I as we were getting started in Fairbanks was invaluable.
    My admiration grew watching his patience and care of Mary Ann in those last few years. I was tickled that he found Betty. Thanks Betty
    Clearly a life to be admired.

  10. Juanita Schmitt lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:04:47 PM

  11. DNP9 lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:03:56 PM

  12. Sheryl Steele says:
    08 Apr 2022
    Thank you Bird for loving my mother with all of your heart. You brightened all the days you were with her. Rest in peace with our Heavenly Father. You will be truly missed.

  13. Debbie Kruse lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:50:58 PM

  14. Crystal Schulz lit a candle:
    08 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 8, 2022 at 4:43:22 AM

  15. Marcy Farris lit a candle:
    07 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 7, 2022 at 4:56:21 PM

  16. James Curtiss posted an image:
    07 Apr 2022
    ♡Goodbye  Sir♡
    ♡Goodbye Sir♡

  17. Tony and Candy Curtiss lit a candle:
    07 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 7, 2022 at 4:29:17 PM

  18. Nick Ortiz says:
    07 Apr 2022
    Bird was a good man and a hard worker. He gave me my first construction job Building my Uncle Mort's house. I'll miss him

  19. James Curtiss says:
    07 Apr 2022
    There is not a man i 've known whom
    i admire or respect more than " Dad ".
    This is being shared by God 's ♡ Grace
    and that HE saw fit to allow this son
    to become a sober man . Re♡connect
    with Dad , to become close for many
    years now . It created opportunities
    for me to let this man know i loved
    him and that " in my eyes " he is also
    ♡MY HERO♡ . D*** i 'll miss him !
    IT warms my heart an soul to know
    these warm fuzzy feelings i 'd chased
    in a bottle , were mine all along ...
    GOD IS GOOD
    i be his grateful son jim

    ps : i 'm certain we
    shall 'st "chat" again

  20. Beverly Schommer posted an image:
    07 Apr 2022
    I love you Daddy!
    I love you Daddy!

  21. Beverly Schommer lit a candle:
    07 Apr 2022
    Lit since April 7, 2022 at 4:51:06 PM

  22. James Curtiss posted an image:
    07 Apr 2022
    Eagle over water
    Eagle over water

  23. Beverly Schommer says:
    07 Apr 2022
    I want to remember my Dad, who had a sense of humor. As in the last days I shared with him, you had to be listening carefully to what he said, or you might not get the joke. He was thrilled to introduce the children to hot peppers for the first time and watch their faces turn multiple shades of red, bounce them on his knee or give them a nickname like Rubber Butt. Another favorite pastime was playing table games surrounded by family and friends. I remember he always loved the tricks and the odd puzzle that some may have struggled with, but I learned from my Dad. I have learned to listen to the in-between.
    This night while I listened to the silence, I could hear his message very well. It was,
    “THE JOKES ON YOU! APRIL FOOLS!” and we laughed together!
    Peace Be With You Daddy! I love you!
    This is me remembering my Dad…

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