The Rev. Dr. Curtis Page, 73, formerly pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood and an Express Publishing board member, passed away on Jan. 5, 2020, at his home in San Diego, Calif., following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Curtis was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1946. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.
Through a 40-year career as a senior pastor, Curtis believed churches should and could be anchoring institutions in their communities, modeling compassion in action. He built those churches with a quick sense of humor and easy personal style that made him approachable as a pastor, unforgettable as a preacher and loved as a friend.
A comment from one of his first parishioners summed up Curtis: “I feel certain that if I were to remove his thread from my life, the whole suit would unravel.”
That impact wasn’t quite as obvious when he drove his 240Z into Ketchum just before Christmas, 1971, following graduation with a master’s degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary. Having grown up in Phoenix, his career might have been cut short by freezing to death that first winter had his best friend, Jerry Seiffert, not taken him to Sturtevants to buy the fattest down coat they could find.
In Ketchum, he met Martha Poitevin. Curtis and Martha believed mutual friend Mollee Hecht saw their romantic potential way before they did. She was right. They became constant companions and inseparable life partners when they married in February 1977.
Curtis’ tiny congregation quickly grew large enough to build a sanctuary on the Big Wood River. Curtis also helped launch the Idaho Mountain Express in 1974, organized seminars for community members during the 1977 snow drought and chaired the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission. He served on Express Publishing’s board of directors until his death.
His ministry emphasized community organizing. The couple moved to Los Angeles in 1980 when Curtis became pastor of Kirk O’ the Valley Presbyterian Church (dubbed “the wee kirk by the taco stand” in his monthly newsletter.) In addition to becoming the father of three and earning his doctorate of ministry from San Francisco Theological Seminary, he helped organize Valley Organized in Community Effort. VOICE helped push an assault weapons ban through the California Legislature following the mass shooting at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, the nation’s first.
In 1993, when one member of a group interviewing prospective pastors for a large church in Indianapolis asked him, “Are you willing to play rock ’n’ roll if it puts their butts in the pews?” he knew he had found his next challenge, leading a mainline Protestant church through the changes needed if it was to sustain itself and grow in its diverse community.
Curtis retired from First-Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church in 2010 following his Parkinson’s diagnosis. He and Martha moved to San Diego in 2012. “For me, it was kind of like going home,” Martha explained. “My grandmother moved there in 1904. For Curtis, San Diego was happily sunshine 365.”
Curtis is survived by his wife; his children, Allison (Jason) Kindred of Hailey, Charles Joseph “C.J.” Page of New York City, and Abigail “Abby” Page of Seattle; and his grandson, Ryan Kindred. He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles and Vera Alice Matthewson Page, and his brother, Charles Noel Page.
A memorial service will be held at First-Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, on Feb. 22.
In lieu of sending flowers, the family requests donations in memory of Curtis Page to the UC San Diego Foundation for the Movement Disorder Outreach, Education and Wellness Fund 6816. Please mail checks to UCSD Gift Processing, 9500 Gilman Dr. No. 0940, La Jolla, CA 92093-0940 or online at giveto.ucsd.edu.