Cadet Company: H2
Date of Birth: November 8, 1943
Date of Death: March 29, 2009
Died in College Station, TX
Interred: West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY - View or Post a Eulogy
Location: Colu 1-26, Row E, Niche BL
Born in the tiny community of Shover Springs, AR, Curtis Dean Churchwell was blessed with a warm family environment and salt-of-the-earth parents. In his early years, he lived in a small, four-room house, and his father drove his school bus, which often had to be pulled through deep, muddy ruts by a bulldozer.
In the late 1940s, Curt and his family moved to Hope, AR. During high school, Curt excelled in sports and academics, playing on the 1958 Hope Bobcat football team that won the AAAA Arkansas state football title. He attended Boys State as a junior and was president of the local National Honor Society as a senior, graduating at the top of his class.
In 1961, Curt received an appointment to West Point from Arkansas Congressman Oren Harris. On the hot July 5th of that year, he joined the Class of 1965 in reporting to "The Man in the Red Sash." At West Point, Curt did well academically while participating in a wide variety of extracurricular activities. As a plebe, he sought familiar surroundings in the Outdoor Sportsmen Club but also added a new sport by joining the ski club. As a first classman, he joined the bridge club. In the meantime, he starred in several intramural sports, including lacrosse and handball, neither of which he had played back in Hope. He also led the H-2 football team to the 2nd Regiment championship in 1964.
Curt was commissioned into the Field Artillery and, after airborne and Ranger schools, arrived at his first post, Ft. Carson, CO, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 29th Field Artillery, His first love, however, was aviation.
In early 1967, Curt headed to Ft. Stewart, GA, to become an Army aviator. Subsequently, he completed the fixed wing aviator course at Ft. Rucker, graduating in September 1967. Soon to be on his way to Vietnam, before leaving Rucker he married the love of his life, Lenore Mika. Classmate Jose Sanchez and his wife Nancy attended the wedding, at which Nancy was the matron of honor. Curt and Lennie seemed to complement each other. They were both easy going, deeply in love, highly supportive, considerate and fun to be with.
In Vietnam, Curt joined the 1st Aviation Brigade. His exceptional service with the 184th Reconnaissance Airplane Company was recognized by the award of numerous medals, including the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device for flying a light observation airplane in support of 1st Infantry Division operations in November 1967. During November 1967 through August 1968, Curt earned a total of 17 Air Medals. Subsequent assignments took him and his family to Ft. Ord, Ft. Sill, Ft. Campbell, Germany, and Korea, where he flew reconnaissance missions along the DMZ.
In 1980, Curt left the Army and began a second career as a safety engineer and safety consultant. Joining Employers Casualty Company in Houston, TX, he worked with numerous companies and municipalities to enhance their safety programs. Curt was described as a "tireless advocate for employee safety, never backing down from any company which tried to look the other way."
When Employers Casualty Company closed in the early 1990s, Curt joined Employers General Insurance Group. He soon became the "go-to" person for many of the company's more difficult assignments. His common sense was highly valued, and a supervisor noted that "he always seemed to be able to look at all the aspects of an issue and pick a good solution." Another supervisor, a West Pointer like Curt, said: "although I 'supervised' Curt, I learned far more from him than he from me. Curt taught me what dedication really was ... dedication to family, friends and work."
In 2005, Curt won the company's Iron Man award, recognizing his leadership in making field visits. The citation read: "No one could keep up with Curt's pace. Curt's calm, reassuring presence on a construction jobsite and his ability to get his customers to abide by his risk control recommendations were positive traits that were admired and emulated by many."
During these years, Curt was known as a serious, true professional but also as someone with whom it was easy to associate, both socially and professionally. Ever the natural athlete, he became a good tennis player and golfer-in spite of an unorthodox golf swing.
He also was known as a very committed husband, father and grandfather who deeply loved his family. As one colleague said, "his family was serious business to him."
Following Curt's retirement from Employers General in 2007, he and Lennie moved to College Station, TX, but they had lived there only a short time before Curt became ill. Throughout his five-month battle with cancer, he remained very brave, a man of strength, just as he had been at West Point. He died on 29 Mar 2009 in College Station, and a service was held for him on 2 Apr 2009 at Christ United Methodist Church there. Subsequently, on 22 Mar 2010, a graveside service was held for Curt at the West Point Cemetery, with family, classmates and friends in attendance.
Curt is survived by his beloved wife of 41 years, Lenore; daughter Cynthia Lee O'Donovan and her husband Shaun; son Kenneth Michael Churchwell and his wife Kelly; four grandchildren; two sisters and a brother and their spouses; and many loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
Curt's life took him a long way from Shover Springs, AR. Throughout his professional, social and family life, he was always a southern gentleman, unassuming and modest but extremely capable and always devoted, first and foremost, to his family. In a most fitting eulogy for Curt, one close friend described Curt's life thusly: "his life was well spent and will be a living legacy of loving and caring, of giving and sacrificing, of putting others first. His confident smile and humble spirit touched us all and will be a beacon in our search for what is right and good."
Thus, Curt, do we remember you and miss you. Well done! Be thou at peace.
-Classmates, friends, wife
and best friend, Lennie Churchwell