Bill Curtis passed away Dec. 3, 2007 at the Tonasket Nursing Home following a three-month stay.
Bill was born Jan. 9, 1927 in Oroville to Rueben and Lois (Brown) Curtis, the oldest of five children. After graduating from Oroville High School in 1945, he joined the Air Force. While in the Air Force acting as an airplane and engine mechanic 747, he was injured sending him to McCormack General Hospital and receiving an honorable discharge in 1947. Entering the University of Idaho for two years, he studied pasteurizing milk along with his other classes. He took that knowledge back to Oroville and the Valley Dairy.
Bill married Jean Fairbairn on Aug. 1, 1948; the marriage produced four children: Dean, Donald, Corene and David.
Bill brought Valley Dairy Products to every home with house-to-house deliveries along with having a store in town where milk was bottled and ice cream made. Teachers would bring their classes to tour the works where Bill showed the children how milk gets into the bottles. He would always have some ice cream in the making so he could give each one a small cone of fresh Valley Dairy ice cream. Selling the routes of the Valley Dairy but keeping the building he turned it into the Curtis C Highlander Laundry Mat, keeping the town clean.
Bill also was a cattle rancher, helping his parents with their Mineral Mountain Ranch on the Columbia River. When the ranch was sold Bill put more time into his horses. Bill and Jean met through their love of horses and always had a few around and soon that love turned into Harmony Morgans. Bill bred, trained and showed his horses with the family for over 20 years. He was happiest on the back of one of his Morgan babies or driving another through town. The May Day Parade saw him and his horses often, as well as Christmas Eve in a sleigh with lights and bells. As an orchardist he had 75 acres that he worked for many years. He was workhorse, always doing something, if not at home then for the town. He was a volunteer for many organizations: Okanogan Mounted Police, Water Rescue (diver), Oroville Fire Department and the Oroville Ambulance.
Bill is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jean; his sons: Dean and wife Janet, Donald and wife Mary and David; his daughter, Corene; grandsons: DW and wife Katey and KC; granddaughters: Wendy and husband Noe, Kimberly and Andrea and husband Ben; great grandchildren: Whitney, Nick, Tori, Rob, Sissy, Taylor and Alex; also his brothers: Jim and wife Liz, Dick and wife Sharon and Larry and wife Sondra; his sister: Jeraldine and husband Ted Piper; and many nieces and nephews.
A memorial service was held Jan. 5, 2008 at the United Methodist Church in Oroville. Memorial contributions may be made in Bill’s memory to the Oroville Fire Department or the Oroville Ambulance Department.