Thursday, July 13, 2017

Uncle Curtis

Our last night in Michigan, Aunt Melody called and told us some news that shattered our hearts. She told us Uncle Curtis and her had gone sailing that day and there had been an accident and Uncle Curtis had passed away. It was such a shock and knocked us all off our feet. We were thankful to be with Papa and Grandma while we grieved together, but also sad that Aunt Melody was in California and we couldn't be with her. 

Philip was asked to write a few words for the Ledbetter Memory board at the reunion this weekend in TN. Below is his tribute to one of his favorite people, Curtis O'Shock. 

"Many may ask who exactly was Curtis O’Shock.  That isboth a very difficult and very easy question to answer.  First, the easy part.  To my brother and I, he was the cool uncle who didn’t care what the adults thought and would play on our level from our toddler years, to adolescence and well through those awkward early teenage years.  In our eyes he was older but acted our age, regardless of what the adults thought.  Brian and I have always held him in high regard and always considered it a huge bonus when Uncle Curtis was going to be there during our visits.  To us,he was always a cool dude (dude always fit him because he lived in California).

That was the easy part, now here for the tougher stuff.  Curtis was a Renaissance Man.  He did everything, was curious about everything and seemed to try everything once.  He was a triathlete, fly fisher, unbelievable photographer, 4x4 off roader, sailor and outdoorsman, among countless other endeavors and dabbles.   What is amazing is that he left us while doing something that made him a Renaissance Man.  


Curtis had the biggest heart.  He was always interested in what you were talking to him about.  In my memory, it didn’t matter whether it was football, cars, kids, family, bikes, photography tips or simply how your day had gone.  He was always listening and caring.  I recently learned that he had a stash of Cliff Bars that he would hand out to homeless people on the street.  He did this without ever telling anyone until after his stash was discovered.  He did everything he could to help the patients where he worked feel special and loved.  He even braved the Michigan cold one Christmas Eve night to create the most perfect, footprint-free, sleigh tracks for my brother and I when we awoke on Christmas morning.  Curtis and my father apparently accomplished this with great planning, precision, lots of winter apparel, a pair of skis, rope and dedication.


The two things that I will remember most about Curtis will be his infectious giggle that still rings in my ears and his speedo-clad snow angels one Michigan winter.  Anyone who has heard his laugh will understand what I mean.  For those who don’t, you sure missed out.  His laugh would brighten a room and make everyone else giggle with joy.  The snow angel story is family legend.  After a stint in Papa Malpass’ sauna, Curtis broke from the sauna and ran through the snow down to the lake.  After trying in vain to break through the lake’s surface ice by jumping up and down on it, he ran back up the hill and dove into the deep Michigan winter snow wearing nothing but a Speedo and a smile.  His giggle could be heard inside over our ownlaughter.  After diving in the snow, he then starting doing snow angels.  I was fortunate enough to hear of his passing while in Michigan.  After hearing the news, I did my own snowless version of his snow angels right where he had done his.  Nothing like doing grass-angels alone in a front yard to celebrate a new angel of heaven.


Curtis will be certainly missed, but should be equally celebrated.  We are all better for his care-free influence.  May we all live life like kids and not care what the adults think."  

- Philip Overall 


1 comment:

Debbie Stiglitz said...

Thanks for this post - it is just early this week we learned of Curtis passing. He was a first cousin on his mom's side and just a year younger than I. His family owned a "camp" near the farm where his mom and my dad grew up - we spent a lot of time when we were children, but I have not seen him for many, many years. Being part of a large family of siblings we all went our ways and so many did not keep in touch, so I appreciate hearing about how he influenced you. Thanks.