By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON April 15, 2005 The Town of Delaware has lost one of the last true gentlemen.
Valleau Edward Curtis, known to most folks in Callicoon simply as Ed, passed away Wednesday at his home.
The father of four daughters and husband to Terry was 75.
His friends and neighbors remember the decorated Korean War veteran for his actions more than his words.
He was kind of an unassuming guy, explained long-time friend and fellow Callicoon businessman Rease Roche. He was a very nice, gentle man.
Town of Delaware Justice Bill Schultz, who grew up in a home across the street from Curtis and was his neighbor in the Del Vue section of Callicoon for much of his life, called Curtis a dear friend.
Both members of the U.S. Navy stationed in Japan, Schultz recalled days when Curtis would come back to port and stop by the barracks to pick him up.
He was an officer, and I was a white hat, Schultz remembered. Wed go out for a good time and a beer.
Ive known him all my life we played together, grew up together, he added. His brother Bob is the same age as me, so we were very close friends.
And all the while Ive known Ed Curtis, Ive known him to be a great guy.
Callicoon businessman Ed Sykes remembers getting a helping hand from the Curtis family when he first took over the Mike Preis Insurance Agency.
The Curtis family, which has a long history in the Town of Delaware, always made it a point to do business locally, Sykes said.
They had a strong feeling about that, he noted. They were very interested in local growth, local business, the fire department, the historical society . . .
In fact, Curtis was a past member of the Callicoon Fire Department, and sister Mary serves as the Town of Delaware historian.
Over the years, Curtis family and then Curtis himself owned a successful nursery on River Road what Sykes called an anchor business during its time as well as Landscape Materials Information Service.
Curtis ran the Callicoon Water Company out of the Curtis Building in the hamlet, and the former pilot for Tsuga Air charter service was director of the Sullivan County Airport.
A staunch environmental advocate, Curtis earned the Upper Delaware Councils Distinguished Service Award in 1995 for his efforts over the years to integrate the Upper Delaware River Management Plan with the needs of the people in his own community.
For more than 30 years, he was chairman of the Town of Delaware Planning Board, helping to bring zoning to the town that meshed with the plans for the river.
He kind of brought the town into the 20th century in that regard, Sykes said.
He was a great asset to the Town of Delaware when he was on the planning board, Schultz added. He was meticulous to a fault to keep us out of trouble.
Former Delaware Supervisor John Eschenberg said Curtis stood up for what he believed was right.
I thought he was a very loyal person both to his country and his beliefs, Eschenberg noted. He was just a plain, good man.
We were friends since we were kids, Eschenberg continued, and there was never a nicer man, a finer man than Ed Curtis.
Sykes said his friend was also devoted to his family.
I had coffee with him every morning for I cant tell you how many 25 years, Sykes recalled. And every morning, he talked about his daughters.
County Manager Dan Briggs called Curtis a real gentleman.
In many respects, he served as the backbone or the fiber of what Sullivan County is, was, and will become, Briggs said. His passing is a real loss.