Ralph Kendall Curtis 1920-2015

Dear Journey's End Family:
For those of you who have not yet heard, Ralph passed away on Monday, October 12th.  He was 95.  

Ralph first encountered Journey's End as a counselor in the summer of 1947.  He married Marie after Christmas that year, at old Journey's End, in Honeoye, NY.  

He and Marie moved the camp here to its present location in 1960, and for more than a generation of campers, Ralph meant shop, cows, hay, garden, the "Bear Story", the tractor.  He fried pancakes at all-camp breakfast cookouts, came with us on the Appalachian Trail, tightened the rope on the Sky Ride, and roasted the sweet corn on Sunday cookouts.  Ralph and Marie ran Journey's End until I (Tim) took over the directorship in 1988, joined by Carl the following summer. Although each summer thereafter Ralph became less directly involved in the camp program, he has been a fixture here for 56 summers, the last five without Marie, who began her JE career as a counselor in 1939, the year her parents started the camp.    

The following obituary appeared in the Scranton Times-Tribune on Saturday, October 17th:

Ralph K. Curtis, August 3, 2015

Ralph K. Curtis, August 3, 2015

Ralph Kendall Curtis
Ralph Curtis, 95, died Monday, October 12th, at his home in Sterling Township, in the same farmhouse where he was raised.  His wife of 63 years, the former Marie Allen, died in 2011. 

Born in Aldenville on September 11, 1920, son of the late Francis Curtis, Jr. and Letha Crossman Curtis, Ralph was a 1937 graduate of the three-year Sterling High School and a 1938 graduate of Greene-Dreher High School.  He spent several years working for his father and other local farmers and loggers, and cutting ice on Gouldsboro Lake, before enrolling in the University of New Hampshire School of Agriculture in 1941.
As a teenager, he became convinced that violence and war were inconsistent with Christ’s teachings, so when he was drafted in 1942, Ralph became a conscientious objector.  He served four years in Civilian Public Service camps in New York, Ohio, and North Dakota, doing forestry and agricultural work.  In Wooster, OH, Ralph met his future wife Marie at a meeting of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. 

Later, Ralph earned a degree in biology from Earlham College in Indiana.  He spent a year teaching in a one-room school in Delaware County, NY, then worked in a sawmill and lumber yard in Millville, PA, before returning to the farm in 1954.  He was a dairy farmer until he sold his milking herd in 1971, but continued to raise replacement heifers.  In 1960, they took over Journey’s End Farm Camp from Marie’s parents, and moved it from Honeoye, New York, to the farm in Sterling. 

As a farmer, Ralph stayed small and chose the work he loved and what was good for the land over economic gain or technological progress.  Social progress, however, was important to him, and throughout his life he supported work to promote racial equality, international understanding, and environmental responsibility.  As a camp director, Ralph was a role model for hundreds of children and youth, inspiring them and their parents with his patience, kindness and strength. 

Ralph was a seasoned maple syrup producer, starting in 1934. He was active in the Northeastern PA Maple Producers Association, and was inducted into the American Maple Hall of Fame in 2005.  He was a Webelos Scout leader, served on the Western Wayne School Board and the Sterling Cemetery Association, was a 70-plus year member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and a co-founder of North Branch Friends (Quaker) Meeting. 

He is survived by a sister, Bernice Dolan, Montoursville; two brothers, Francis, Sterling, and Carroll, Harrisburg; a son, Tim and wife Helena Guindon, Sterling; a daughter-in-law, Kristin Curtis, Sterling; five grandsons, Jason, and wife Kristen Suzda, Philadelphia; Ira, Northampton, MA; Andrew, Sterling; Silvio, Los Angeles, CA; and Tulio, St. Cloud, MN, and his dog, Sandy. 

He was also preceded in death by a sister, Evelyn; four brothers, Eugene, Donald, Samuel and Marvin; two sons, Daniel and Carl; a granddaughter, Antonia; and many beloved dogs, especially Molly. 
 Memorial contributions may be made to the Journey’s End Farm Camp Scholarship Fund, 815 Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431; the Fellowship of Reconciliation, P.O. Box 271, Nyack, NY 10960; or North Branch Friends Meeting, 815 Main Street, Honesdale, PA 18431. 

We miss Ralph all the time, but are happy that he was able to die at home, as he always wanted.  We invite anyone who would like to write down some of your memories and reflections on Ralph to send them to us. 

Tim, Helena, Kristin, Andy, Lily and Sandy-dog