The Hero and Craftsman...a biography
(written and read by Russ' son, Tim)
My Dad, Russ Curley, was a Craftsman and my Hero.
He was born October 22, 1922 in Lexington Nebraska to Clifton and Elvena Curley. He was the second of five children: Dorothy, himself, Gerald, Bernard and Charles. His family moved from Nebraska to Glendale California when he was in High School.
As a member of the famed “Greatest Generation”, He shared many common values with others his age: Duty, Honor, Economy, Courage, Service, Love of Family and Country, and above all, Responsibility for oneself. There were two short periods in his life that I think define his character: The Great Depression and World War II. The Great Depression taught him to be an excellent craftsman, the War gave him his patriotism. He was a Machinist and Industrial Mechanic by trade…there wasn’t a thing that his hands couldn’t build. Because of his small stature, he got to go where other men couldn’t…inside huge hydroelectric generators and many other tight spots.
He was in his senior year at Glendale’s Hoover High School when the tragic events of Pearl Harbor happened. After graduating in the spring of ’42, he joined the United States Navy. The Navy made him a Machinist Mate. Although he didn’t talk much of it, I learned his two most memorable Navy periods were while stationed aboard the battleship USS Tennessee and the aircraft carrier USS Valley Forge. During his tour aboard the Tennessee, the ship saw heavy action from Tarawa to Okinawa. After the War, his new ship, the Valley Forge was ordered on a “Round-the-World” goodwill cruise. I remember, as a child, looking through his cruise book with awe, seeing exotics ports in far-off places like Singapore, Egypt, and Norway. (In 1999, my wife Judi and I got to visit Bergen Norway where I felt the wonderful sensation of walking in his small footsteps.) In later years, Dad expressed his patriotism through his service with the American Legion.
Although a constant flirt with all the ladies, he was dedicated and loyal to two great women: My mother Cozy and my step-mother Darlene. Cozy gave him four children: Mike, myself, Bev and Chris. Cozy passed away when Dad was 49. Thanks to young Chris’ help, he went on to marry Darlene, the wonderful lady you all know. She has been an anchor for our now dispersed family.
Personally, Dad taught me a sense of integrity and how to smile. He always had a grin on his face, a bounce to his step and a zest for life. That’s how I’ll always remember him.