Obituaries » Lawrence Daniel Curtis

Lawrence Daniel Curtis

July 9, 1940 - June 6, 2017

Service: Viewing

Date: Friday, June 09, 2017, 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Location : Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike Ellicott City MD, 21043

Service: Viewing

Date: Friday, June 09, 2017, 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location : Harry H. Witzke's Family Funeral Home
4112 Old Columbia Pike Ellicott City MD, 21043

Service: Mass of Christian Burial

Date: Saturday, June 10, 2017, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Location : Church of the Resurrection
3175 Paulskirk Drive Ellicott City MD, 21042

Service: Interment

Date: Saturday, June 10, 2017, 2:00 pm - 2:15 pm

Location : Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens
2150 Mount View Rd Marriottsville MD, 21104

Lawrence (“Larry”) Daniel Curtis, 76, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on June 6, 2017, at Howard County General Hospital after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. Larry was born July 9, 1940 to the late Kenneth and Rita Curtis in Baltimore, Maryland, the second son of five children. Larry grew up on Lyndhurst Street in West Baltimore where he attended St. Bernadine’s school.

A Calvert Hall High School graduate, Larry first attended LaSalle University and then graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the Loyola College in Baltimore in 1963. Larry met his wife of 52 years, Patricia Lou (Grubitz) Curtis, at his friend John Watts’ wedding and they married after Pat graduated from Mt. St. Agnes College. Not long after Larry and Pat married, Larry became a certified public accountant and later was awarded a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Larry’s professional career started in New York working for The Wall Street Journal. Larry and Pat then moved back to Baltimore where Larry worked for the Main Lafrentz & Co. accounting firm, which at the time was one of the members of the sweet 16 of certified public accounting firms. Larry completed his professional career working for Choice Hotels International for over 30 years. Larry was a well-loved member of the Choice Hotels family where he knew the names of every person he worked with, from the executive officers to the maintenance staff.

Larry was an avid sports fan his entire life. Larry enjoyed coaching his children’s sports teams and was a regular spectator at their games. A gentle giant, Larry was always ready with a frosty milkshake and a big smile at the game’s end, regardless of the outcome. Larry especially enjoyed watching the Baltimore Orioles at the “Yard” or on television. Larry celebrated his 76th birthday at Camden Yards with almost an entire section dedicated to family and friends.

While not a gambler, Larry enjoyed playing cards especially bridge and Larry and Pat regularly played in a number of bridge clubs. Larry and Pat also enjoyed amusement parks and frequently hosted trips to Disney World for their children and grandchildren at Christmastime. Larry and Pat travelled to Ireland, Italy, Alaska, Canada and enjoyed cruises in their golden years.

Larry was a devoted family man and is remembered by his beloved wife, Patricia Lou (Grubitz) Curtis, along with their five children and twelve grandchildren: Bernard and Nischmed Curtis of Alexandria, Virginia (Stephanie and Michelle); Sarah and David Seidl of Annapolis, Maryland (David and Luke); Daniel and Kary Curtis of Mount Airy, Maryland (Andrea, Bridget, Clare and Zoe); Denise and Frank Boersma of Ashburn, Virginia (Renée, Rachel, Robyn and Frankie); Diane Curtis of Rockville, Maryland; and Larry’s sister Jeanne Dickson as well as many extended family members.

Larry is preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Rita Curtis, his brothers Bernard and Kenneth Curtis and his sister Ann McCormack.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Church of the Resurrection’s Vision 2020 Campaign. Your contribution is tax deductible.

A Eulogy to Lawrence Daniel Curtis– written and delivered by Dan Curtis on June 10, 2017
When you die, and go to heavenand meet … Elvis. Is he the fat, Vegas Elvis from the 70’s with the sideburns and sunglasses or the skinny, clean-shaven Memphis Elvis from the 50’s?

[Dan made gestures as if he were finished at this point for comic effect- very amusing.]

I can’t talk about my dad without first talking about my mom. In the last week of my father’s life, my mom said that it was like her children had not changed.  Physically we were different but we were the same as when we lived at home. For example, I would help my dad with a tear in my eye, the same tear that would appear if my mom scolded me. Denise would come over and quietly help my dad in his most trying of times. Sarah would come into the house, sit down at the table, pull out a notebook, make lists and arrange affairs as Bernie went about making holes in the walls, and then patching them, and burning off any extra energy by chopping wood or working on the yard. And of course, Diane would come bouncing in with her dog and a smile to comfort my mom as she helped out in any way she could. To my mom, my brother and sisters haven’t changed in over thirty years.

My dad was also consistent. When he passed peacefully at 76I imagine that he was the same person that met my mom – a nice guy with a great smile.  My parents first met at the wedding of their mutual friends, John and Joann Watts. They were randomly paired in the bridal party and as they walked down the aisle, my dad turned to my mom and said, “You know, the next time we walk down an aisle, it will be at our weddingFor my dad is was love at first sight. My mom thought he was crazy. Some things just don’t change.

I want everyone to know the Larry from Calvert Hall – the tall, lanky, brainy child of an immigrant Irish mother and a three sport all-American father. My dad had a quick wit and a quicker temper and loved sportsHe aspired to be a physicist. Maybe that is why he loved the T.V. show The Big Bang TheoryThat was the generous and loving man that married my mom. His soul never changed, but physically he had a secret – he was transcorporal. He believed that he was a skinny person that became trapped in a large body. The large man that we all came to know was really that skinny teenager that couldn’t add any weight- even if he ate all the chocolates,  ice cream, and snowballs that he could.  As a child, he could not add weight to his frame.

On the night before his death, my family was watching the movie The Bucket Listand I happened to catch the scene where God is talking to Jack Nicholson on top of the pyramids– well, not god, but Morgan Freeman, the same thing.

God (Morgan Freeman) says that the Egyptians had a belief that before they could enter the afterlife they first had to answer two questions:

1. Did you find joy in your life?

2. Did you bring joy to the lives of those around you?

I know my dad found joy in life, and I hope that he would not hesitate at the second question – as everyone who has met my dad would attest, he brought joy to us all. 

He gave us joy and many gifts – 

We can thank him for giving us the gift of being Irish – He would say that there are two kinds of people in the world, the Irish and those who would like to be Irish.

He loved my mom- and on his death bed he told her that he always loved her and always will love her. And my mom loved my dad – just ask her and she will tell you that he was the best husband she ever had.

My father never became a physicist. My mom steered him into accounting. I once played a song for him – it was the first time that I saw a tear in his eye – the songs opening line sums up how we viewed my father as kids.

My father was an accountant and I used to think that he was dumb.

The second refrain gets even better:

My father was an accountant and I used to think that he was boring. I would tell my friends about his job and I would see them start snoring

The songwriter sings about watching his father work all the time and then reveals

My father is hero, but for a while, I couldn’t see.

One Day I saw what he really did. He spent his whole life taking care of his wife and his kid.

My dad spent his whole life helping my mom take care of our family.  My dad became a large man. His weight was not astronomical – we are not talking Carl Sagan “billions and billions” numbers. But I do remember trying to explain gravity to one of my children and the best that I could come up with is that law of gravity explains why my father often had food on his shirt.  Many times, food, as it went from my Dad’s plate to his mouth, would get caught in his gravitational pull from the mass of his body and end up on his shirt

My dad, like the sun, was the center of our universe. He was a constant, large body exuding a loving force keeping everything togetherWe all revolved around him, especially on weekends when he watched baseball

Unfortunately, My dad’s time has passed. His sun has set. And although he is a heavenly body, he is more like a black hole in the center of our family. He cannot be seen again, but his force will always be there and we will continue to orbit around him. 

My dad was the nicest man that you could know. Sometimes it takes different vantage points to allow you to see something that is right in front of you. My brother-in-law Frank commented that my dad would always take the time to talk to.. anyone, but he also listened and cared. Growing up my friends would always say how nice my dad was – and I would just think – my dad??? 30 years later, the parents of my kid’s friends would say the same thing to me about my dad after briefly meeting him at my kids athletic events.

I remember recycling paper from his company on weekends to earn extra moneyThe thing that impressed me was that everyone knew my dad, or more exactly, my dad knew everyone – the janitor, the security guard, the lady at the fast food restaurant (actually any fast food restaurant in Silver Spring) and he treated them all with respect and kindness.  

Years later, I read about Walt Bettinger, CEO of Charles Schwab who failed a onequestion exam to receive the only B in college and ruin his perfect GPA. It came down to the final exam in a business course.

He says, “I had spent many hours studying and memorizing formulas to do calculations for the case studies,” he recalls. “The teacher handed out the final exam, and it was on one piece of paper. Once everyone had their paper, he said, ‘Go ahead and turn it over.’ Both sides were blank.”

Next, the professor said: “I’ve taught you everything I can teach you about business in the last 10 weeks, but the most important message, the most important question, is this: What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?”

“Her name was Dottie, and I didn’t know Dottie. I’d seen her, but I’d never taken the time to ask her name. I’ve tried to know every Dottie I’ve worked with ever since.”

Bettinger says that experience was a great reminder of what really matters in life, “and that you should never lose sight of the people who do the real work.”

My father knew all of the Dottie’s that he met and this wasn’t a lesson that he needed to learn, this is who he was. 

So if I am blessed and go to heaven, I’d prefer the fat Elvis. But if I am blessed and meet my father, it wouldn’t matter if I met the big Larry or the skinny Larry – they were the same person.

Finally, we can try to honor my father by being nice to each other and to all of the those that cross our path. We lost a kind soul with the passing of my dad. I hope it can, at least inspire you to smile at a stranger and learn their name.  Thank You.