Route 66 News

Longtime roadie Skip Curtis dies

C.H. “Skip” Curtis, a longtime historian and booster of Route 66 in Missouri, died Saturday night at his home in Springfield, Mo., reports Tommy Pike, president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri.

I don’t have any funeral arrangements yet. I’ll pass them along and other details as I get them.

Curtis was a contributing writer to Route 66 Magazine and previously was an editor of Show Me Route 66, the magazine of the Missouri 66 association.

He’s probably best-known for two books about Route 66. One is “Birthplace of Route 66 — Springfield, Mo.,” which argued that the Mother Road was essentially created there. The other is “The Missouri U.S. 66 Tour Book,” which is a terrific resource of history, photos and directions to the Mother Road in the Show-Me State. It was published in 1994, shortly after the renaissance of Route 66 began. I still use that volume for reference purposes.

Curtis lived in St. Louis for decades, owning an advertising and marketing company. A few years ago, he moved back to his hometown of Springfield to live in a historic, renovated fire station. Curtis had a bout with cancer a couple years ago, but the last I’d heard, the treatments went well.

I met Curtis only one time that I can recall. (For some reason, he didn’t go to many of the usual roadie gatherings.) We were touring Route 66 in Missouri when we stopped in St. James at Johnnie’s Bar, a great old tavern that’s been there for many years at Route 66 and Jefferson Street, the main north-south drag through town. In addition to an old Stag beer sign at the entrance, Johnnie’s contains a collection of American Indian arrowheads and other artifacts.

Curtis was there helping the owners move some heavy stuff around. We were there only long enough to exchange brief greetings because he was busy and we were behind schedule on Route 66, as usual. But I do remember complimenting him for his Route 66 tour book, which he appreciated.

If any of you want to post memories about Skip Curtis, use the comments section of this post.

UPDATE 4/23/07: I called the funeral home, which is Gorman Scharpf. The service will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First & Calvary Presbyterian Church in Springfield at 820 Cherry St. (map is here).

Burial will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday (yes, before the service) at Hazelwood Cemetery in Springfield.

Memorials should be given to:

Springfield-Greene County Library
4653 S. Campbell
Springfield, MO 65810


UPDATE2: Tommy Pike has more for the roadies:

Immediately following the service there will be a celebration in honor of Skip at the family home, 1314 E. Walnut (map). The family invites you to join in this celebration and bring your best “Skip” story to share.

You may send expressions of sympathy to Karla Curtis at 424 South National Ave., Springfield, Missouri 65806. Please keep Karla in your prayers as she goes through this very difficult time.

UPDATE 4/24/07: Tommy and Glenda Pike sent me the text of Curtis’ obituary:

C.H. Skip Curtis

Skip Curtis died April 21, 2007, of cancer at the age of 63 at Old No.3.

Skip was born November 22, 1943, in Springfield, Missouri, the son of EC and Eula Mae (Sence) Curtis. He attended Drury University and Missouri State University in Springfield, and Washington University in St. Louis.

He headed his own advertising company for over 30 years. He was an author, artist and historian. He wrote a series of books on Route 66. He served on boards of several associations, including the Route 66 Association. He greatly enjoyed directing family and friends down parts of old Route 66 and retelling historical stories he had uncovered in his research.

In his childhood, Skip dreamed of living in the local firehouse. In 1999, he and his wife Karla made that dream come true. Skip took great pride in his self-designed renovations of Old No.3 and the memorabilia which covers the walls and tells many tales of history.

Skip served in the United States Marine Corps, was affiliated with Kappa Alpha fraternity, and was an avid outdoorsman and sportsman. As a youth, Skip was a champion swimmer, diver and golfer.

Skip was preceded in death by his beloved “Pop,” EC Curtis, his mother Eula Mae, sister Beckey, and brother Art. He is survived by his wife Karla, step-daughter Susan Wilkerson, brother Steve and wife Susan of Tamarindo, Costa Rica; seven nieces, two nephews, and four cousins who grew up together, Karla’s family and his faithful friend to the end, Trey.

Memorial services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, with Reverend Alf Halvorson officiating. Private interment will be in Hazelwood Cemetery under the direction of Gorman-Scharpf Brentwood Chapel.

The family requests memorial contributions be made to Greene County Public Library or the History Museum for Springfield-Greene County.