Benjamin Franklin Curtis, Jr. 91, of Athens, passed away Friday, Aug. 31, 2012. Visitation will be today from 11-2:45 p.m. at Limestone Chapel Funeral Home with the funeral following at 3 p.m. Burial will be in Roselawn Cemetery.
Mr. Curtis was born July 6, 1921, in Mt. Pleasant, Tenn., to Benjamin Franklin Curtis Sr. and Ida Belle Vandergriff. He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U. S. Navy Seabees on Okinawa. In 1951 he and wife, Wilma, moved their family to Alabama from Summertown, Tenn. He began a career with the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, and in 1958 joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) working as an Electronic Specialist Manager at Marshall Space Flight Center Test Lab until his retirement in 1975. His involvement in the space program included speaking the countdown for the first televised static missile test at Redstone Arsenal, work on the first launch facility at Cape Canaveral (Kennedy) Florida and was a member of the Saturn V/Apollo launch team. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, affectionately known as “Daddy Ben.” He was a true outdoorsman and his passions in life were hunting, fishing, and working on his farm. He was a faithful member of the Eastside Church of Christ.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife of 71 years, Wilma Nafe Curtis; son, Kevin Alan Curtis; eight brothers, William Robert Curtis, Joseph Owen Curtis, Leonard Franklin Curtis, Eugene Curtis, James Boss Curtis, George Leo Curtis, Thomas Alton Curtis and John Y. Curtis; a sister, Euna Curtis Moore, and daughter-in-law, Patricia Tarkington Curtis.
He is survived by sons Ronald Curtis of Athens, Joe Curtis and wife Vicki of Athens; daughter, Diane Wildenstein and husband Hank of Salem; grandsons, Phillip Curtis and wife Jana of Elba, Jonathan Curtis and wife Debbie of Birmingham; granddaughters, Laura Curtis of Nashville, Leah Pierce and husband Kirk of Athens, Maria Fronckowiak and husband Jamie of Madison, Amanda Hobbs and husband Jessie of Elkmont, and Johanna Curtis of Alexandria, Va. He had 13 great grandchildren and many friends, neighbors, nieces and nephews. Special thanks to loving caregivers, Rosa Bozarth, Kimberly Henderson, and Rachel Webb.
Pallbearers will be nephews, Alton Curtis, Dave Curtis, Horace Curtis, Jack Curtis, Bob Curtis, and Owen Moore.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Boy Scouts of America Troop 7021 at BBVA/Compass Bank, 105 West Green St., Athens, AL 35611.
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