Schenectady - Elizabeth Jane Curtis (Betty) passed away on June 3, 2021.
On October 22, 1931, a beautiful, freckled redhead was born to George Samuel and Marjorie Ella (Madden) Willimott, in Albany NY. They gave her the name Elizabeth Jane, and called her Betty, for short.
Growing up in East Greenbush with her two brothers, George (deceased) and Jack (Marilyn), in a community known as Sherwood Park, she attended Columbia High School, graduating in 1949.
On November 4, 1950, she married James Allen Curtis (Sr.). They moved to Cooperstown for a short time before settling in the Coldbrook neighborhood of Rotterdam NY, where they undertook the daunting task of raising eight children: Jeanne Okpu (Bana), Sandra Trawick (Dick, deceased), James Jr. (Kathy Coyle), Stephen (deceased), Michael (Kathleen Brown), Jeffrey (Tammy Leone), Scott, and Todd (Tammy Grace).
In addition to her children, she was a grandmother to 19 grandchildren: Brett (Allison) Belden and Cara Belden; Erin (Ben) Scott, Trisha (Dan) Lindemann, and Daniel Trawick; Rachel, Shannon and Peter Curtis; Adam Curtis, Amber Curtis (Koji Mabuchi); Eric (Brittany) Curtis, Jaqueline Curtis, and Kevin (Katie) Curtis; Jaeda and Ethan Curtis; Evan and Arianna Curtis; and Sydney and Austin Curtis.
Her 12 greatgrandchildren are: Knox Curtis; Avery and Harper Belden; Grayson Scott; Nicholas, Michael and Leah Lindemann; Makoto and Kenji Mabuchi; Ryze Curtis; and Kenzie and Keegan Curtis.
Besides the full-time job of raising her eight kids, Betty worked at different times as a door-to-door salesperson for Fuller Brush Co., waited tables at Berical’s Diner, and was an employee of Towne Decorators. Somewhere in there she managed to find the time to take night courses, ultimately earning her degree in Licensed Practical Nursing. As an LPN, she was a staple for years at St. Clare’s Hospital, before accepting a nursing position with Schenectady County, from which she retired in 1997.
Betty strongly identified with her Irish heritage. For example, she decorated her traditional white nursing cap with green ribbons and shamrocks. St. Patrick’s Day was high and holy; she always served up the traditional corned beef and cabbage supper to whoever cared to stop by. She had a quick Irish wit, which was sometimes countered by a sharp tongue. When she spoke, people paid attention!
She traveled to Ireland twice, visited California and Idaho, and went to Florida a number of times, including several road trips with her entire brood stuffed into a car, to see her In-Laws, Walter and Fannie Curtis. Surprisingly, she managed to maintain her sanity!
She also loved her houseboat, which was moored for several years on her favorite River, the mighty Mohawk.
On Outer Drive in Coldbrook, she was the neighborhood “mom”, often watching over not only her own bunch, but also the throngs of their friends who came to the house nearly every day to swim in the pool, to play in the yard, street and surrounding woods, stay for sleepovers, and generally occupy every square inch of space on the property. It was barely-controlled mayhem!
Cooking was not considered to be one of her specialties, but no one ever went hungry. She was expert at stretching certain meals in order to feed everyone: It was a little like her version of “Loaves and Fishes”.
Her love for her children was unwavering and unconditional. She considered them to be the reason she was put on this earth; to nurture, guide and teach, and to instill the unquestionable knowledge in each that he/she was the most important person in her world.
Calling hours will be held on Tuesday June 8 from 4 to 7 PM at DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home, 1605 Helderberg Ave., Schenectady. There will be a Catholic Mass for Betty on Wednesday June 9 at 10 AM at St. Paul the Apostle Church, Albany St. Schenectady, followed by a Christian burial in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Rensselaer.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in her name to the Alzheimer’s Association of America www.alz.org.
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