John Dorian Curtin, Jr., “Jack”, was born on December 30, 1932 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jack grew up a skinny kid with big ears and an even bigger independent streak and will to succeed. He graduated from Cascia Hall, and, with no desire to keep getting scolded by priests, shocked his parents and siblings and went to Yale. Yale was hard for him at first, but he buckled down, graduated, and went straight to the Harvard Business School. Upon graduation, Jack became a landman for Arco in Casper, Wyoming. His Tulsa draft board quickly caught up to him, so he spent his first time in Texas as an Army clerk at Fort Sam Houston. Jack never took to Army life, but it did afford him the time to write “The Story of the Farthest Star,” a touching story about life’s mission, God, and the birth of the Child. Still today, his family reads that story every Christmas Eve.
After serving in the Army, Jack went back to the oilfields of Wyoming where, one cold night in the winter of 1959, he thought to call back to the east coast to a girl with whom he’d be on just a few dates nearly two years before. He challenged that girl, Nancy Clark, to come meet him in Wyoming, and she rebuffed and countered with Vermont. They settled on Winnetka and Aunt Peggy Dunne’s house. They re-met there on Holy Thursday, and they announced to the world that they were engaged on Easter Sunday. Then, after just a few dates, a long weekend, and faith, a 60-year marriage began.
From their beginnings together in Wyoming, Mom and Dad moved back to Tulsa where Dad began his climb through the management ranks through several companies until he landed at BS&B. Suddenly with two little girls in tow, Mom and Dad moved with BS&B to Ardmore, OK, then to Kansas City, KS, then to Houston. Dad left to become the CEO of Sage Engineering. Shortly after that, he joined a young investment banking house, First of Texas, as the head of corporate finance. After that firm was acquired by Rauscher Pierce, Dad left to start his own small investment banking/merchant banking/venture capital shop, Curtin & Co. From 1974 to 1989, Curtin & Co., led by Dad but with the help of his partners, became a strong, regional player in mergers and acquisitions advisory work, capital raising, and buyouts. Many oilfield service firms got their starts or financed their growth through the work of Curtin & Co. While in Houston, Dad was very active in the community as well. Some highlights include roles as the first president of the Houston Venture Capital Association, president of the Houston Ballet Foundation, and a member of the board of trustees of St. John’s School.
In 1989, Mom and Dad left Houston to head back to the city where they first met, Boston, Massachusetts. There, Dad became the chief financial officer of Cabot Corporation, then a Fortune 500 specialty chemical company. After several years there, Dad spun out the safety products division in a leveraged buyout to create Aearo Corp., a company eventually acquired by 3M.
Dad continued giving to his community after retirement by serving on many corporate boards, being an active venture investor and advisor, and, most importantly, by founding or serving several important non-profit organizations. Beacon Hill Seminars continues today to promote active engagement and learning amongst its members around Boston. Dad also was involved in Beacon Hill Village and was a director emeritus of the Franklin Square House Foundation.
Dad’s other passions could be found in the little town of Castine, Maine, where he and Mom first settled for the summer in 1979, on a cattle ranch. Yes, the Okie compromised his vision of a cattle spread in Wyoming with Mom’s desire for a summer cottage on the coast of Maine by recreating an old cattle farm on the shores of the Penobscot River. That idea lasted about a year, but their love for Castine and its people, year-round and strappies, remained until and even after they were no longer able to visit. Dad loved the Castine Golf Club, where he served on the board, as president, and as president of the CGC Property Corp. He also loved to spend time on the water in his beloved Margalo, an 18 foot wooden sloop on which he won his fair share of pewter cups. His love for Castine and its people is carried on today by yet another charity he founded, nurtured, and developed — the Hatch Community Youth Fund, which provides opportunities for local youth to learn and love the outdoors, just as he did.
Even after Alzheimer’s robbed Dad of his amazing, almost limitless mind — both in its intellect and kindness — Dad remained a cheerful, charming, engaging man in his final years at the Newton Wellesley Alzheimer’s Center; and we are grateful for the care and love he received there. They understood Dad as the man he always was and not just as the man altered by disease.
Dad’s parents, Bunny and Dode, and his two brothers, George and Michael, paved the way for Dad. He leaves behind his daughter Maura Lundie and her Bruce, his daughter Maggie Begley and her Peter, and his son John and his Claire. He also leaves his grandchildren whom he loved to spoil either in Maine, in Florida, or during other wonderful trips and visits — Ainsley and Nate Lundie; Clark, Carter, and Colton Begley; and Jack and Charlotte Curtin. Beyond that, Dad is survived by our Aunt Peggy, her family, and lots of other nieces, nephews, and cousins. Mostly, though, he leaves behind his beloved Nancy, wife, supporter, confidant, and friend for almost 60 years. Theirs was a love story whose first chapter was ridiculously short but whose length and depth was an inspiration to us all.
There will be a reception at the Henry J. Burke & Family Funeral Home in Wellesley from 4-6pm on Thursday, May 23 and a funeral mass at St. Paul Parish in Cambridge at 10:00am on Friday, May 24.
For those wishing, remembrances may be sent to the Hatch Community Youth Fund (http://www.thehatchfund.org/, PO Box 195, Castine, ME, 04421) or to the charity of your choice.