Curie, Donald Frederick
A new star joined the evening sky shortly after sunset on March 12, 2022, as Donald Frederick Curie moved from this world to the next. Peacefully, with his beloved wife, Emily, and loved ones at his side he slipped away from a period of declining health that had stolen his body but never crushed his spirit, his mind or his joy for life. He wrote letters, welcomed visitors and told stories to the end. A member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Wooster, his faith allowed him calm acceptance and the peace of having no regrets.
Born on February 11, 1939, in Orrville, to Frederick and Mary (Bengelsdorf) Curie, Don lived the joys of small town boyhood. He delivered newspapers, performed magic acts and stood as officiant at neighborhood animal funerals. Don found his special place in front of the crowd and went on to spend much of his life there in one role or another.
After graduating from Orrville High in 1957, Don earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Science at Manchester College in Indiana before returning to Orrville to begin his life’s work as a teacher. He met Emily Smith as they both began teaching at Orrville Junior High. Each was fascinated with the other. They were married on August 16, 1969, and spent 30 years sharing a ride to school.
At the helm of his 7th grade Life Science classroom, Don became a story told over and over by thousands of students. A man who never outgrew the boundless wonderment of childhood, he delighted students with critters and creatures. His specialty was bats, and he earned a reputation as a champion and savior for the misunderstood mammals. “Batman” spent decades on call for rescue operations with local law enforcement, handling the creatures as others might a stray kitten. That same ethos extended to the oddballs and misfits in his classroom. Don said that his greatest joy as a teacher was seeing the moment when students, “Moved beyond the basics to make discoveries on their own.” He retired after 32 years in the profession.
In the summertime, Don and Emily shared great joy in entertaining nieces and nephews at their place in the country, camping out and participating in all the cooking—including Batcave pizza.
Parallel to and contiguous with his teaching career was Don’s passionate avocation of acting. Whether playing Ebenezer Scrooge, Fagan in Oliver or Albert Einstein in a one-man show the spotlight never dimmed for Don. He starred in dozens of local and regional productions over the years, gaining the love and respect of fellow actors and crew members, and the adoration of audiences all over Northeast Ohio. Performing with The Magical Theatre Co., Akron Children’s Theater and the Wadsworth Footlighters among others, Don was also charter member of the Wayne County Performing Arts Council. Deeply interested in local history he was also a founding member of the Orrville Railroad Heritage Committee.
Preceded in death by his parents; and brothers, Wilbur Glenn “Jimmy”, David Bruce, and John Franklin Curie. Don is survived by Emily, his wife of 52 years, and sisters-in-law, Jane (Richard) Mathys, Bonnie (Don) Lee and Norma (Harold) Stockman along with many nieces, nephews and cousins. He also leaves behind an entire generation of former students, some who came to know him as a dear friend, inspiration and unintentional mentor on how to live a joyed-filled, wonderful and totally unique life by being exactly the person you wish to be.
A Celebration of Life will take place Saturday, April 9, at Christ United Church of Christ, Orrville, beginning at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations in Don’s name to the Wayne County Humane Society, 1161 Mechanicsburg Road, Wooster, OH 44691, www.wchs.org, Ohio’s Hospice LifeCare, 1900 Akron Road, Wooster, OH 44691, www.lifecarehospice.org, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Wayne County, 3186 Burbank Road, Wooster, OH 44691, www.uufwc.org, or Christ United Church of Christ, 301 North Main Street, Orrville, OH 44667, www.christucc.com
Expressions of condolence may be made at www.aublefuneralhome.com or sent to Emily Curie, c/o Auble Funeral Home, 512 E. Oak Street, Orrville, OH 44667.