This obituary was provided by the Curtis family.
The Rev. Newell Hill Curtis, Jr., 88, Pastor Emeritus at Center Congregational Church in Manchester, Connecticut, died October 1, 2016 surrounded by his loving wife Jane and their family.
He was born March 21, 1928 in Montpelier, Vermont, the oldest of five children to Newell Hill Curtis, Sr. and Alice Pine Curtis. A beloved husband, father and grandfather, Newell was married for 65 years to Jane (Cook), who survives him. He also leaves behind his five children, James (Cindy Lou), Mary Concklin (Peter), Daniel (Christine), Leigh Higgins (Leslie), and Cynthia; his eight grandchildren, Sam and Alena Curtis, Nick Concklin, Steve, Andy and Jack Curtis, Carrick and Caeleigh Higgins, extended family members, Chengetayi and Tsitsi Sithole and their three children, and his brother, George Curtis. He was pre-deceased by his brothers Richard and David, and his sister Dorothy.
Newell graduated from the University of Vermont in 1950 with a B.S. in Education. After graduation, he worked as a legislative news reporter for radio station WDEV in Waterbury, Vermont until he was activated by the Army to serve in the Korean War. After returning from the war, Newell joined Vermont Plastics Inc. as a Vice President & Sales Manager in Montpelier, a company his father started. He served in the Army reserves, retiring as a chaplain with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1957, Newell entered Andover Newton Theological Seminary and served as student pastor at the First Congregational Church in Plympton, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1961 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree. His lifelong career in the ministry began in Rochester, New Hampshire as Pastor of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ (UCC) from 1961-1967, followed by Pastor of First Church in Newton, UCC in Newton Centre, Massachusetts from 1967-1974, and finally Senior Pastor of Center Congregational Church, UCC, Manchester, Connecticut from 1974-1992, retiring as Pastor Emeritus.
Newell was very active in the New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island Conferences of the UCC. In New Hampshire, he was the chair of the Youth Ministry Council, and Co-director with his wife Jane of a Conference Family Camp. As State Coordinator for the Heifer Project, he traveled to Bolivia as one of "the Cowboys" taking a Noah's Ark-shipment of bulls, heifers, rams, pigs, ducklings, chicks, bees and machetes – a project that was a lifelong passion. In Massachusetts, Newell was co-director with Jane of the summer youth conference, president of the Newton Clergy Association, coordinator of the exploratory committee for the United Parish of Newton with First, Second and Elliot churches, and presided over the celebrative closure of the First Church in Newton after 308 years of ministry. In Connecticut, he was a member of the Conference Board of Directors; chair of the Conference property committee; chair of the bicentennial celebration of the Missionary Society of Connecticut; a member of the Conference finance advisory committee; President of the Manchester Area Conference of Churches; a member of the UConn Health Center Advisory board; President of the Manchester Child Guidance Clinic; Chaplain of the Manchester Sports Hall of Fame; co-coordinator with Jane of the Conference Disaster Preparedness planning program; and tour leader for members of the Manchester congregation to Egypt, Israel and Jordan. Newell also went on mission trips to Nicaragua and Honduras to help build a school, among other projects. After retiring to Block Island, RI, Newell was co-coordinator with Jane of the RI UCC Conference Disaster Preparedness planning program.
Newell loved music and was famous for his piano playing, entertaining family and friends at any opportunity. His children and grandchildren particularly loved his rendition of “Little Red Caboose”. He and Jane were involved in many musical productions while living on Block Island, which raised money that made it possible for the Block Island children to take music lessons. Newell loved watching the Red Sox and UConn women’s basketball. He was an avid builder known for construction that was “not going to go anywhere” as his children can attest.
Newell and Jane enjoyed traveling around the world, including several Elderhostel bike trips in the U.S., Germany, Austria, Denmark and France. They went with the Global Volunteers to Jamaica where Newell taught school, and the Cook Islands where he did electrical and construction work. They also went to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina to help with the reconstruction. They visited Cynthia in Germany where she was working for the USO, and Leigh in Niger, West Africa where she was in the Peace Corps.
A memorial service will be held in his honor at South Glastonbury Congregational Church, 949 Main St, South Glastonbury, CT 06073, on Monday October 10 at 1 pm followed by a reception at the church in the Social Hall. Burial will be in the Memory Garden at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to The Heifer Project at www.heifer.org or Silver Lake Conference Center of the Connecticut Conference of Churches at www.silverlakect.org.