Skip to main content

Ida M. Curtis

Born April 16, 1935, in New Haven CT, Ida passed away January 21, 2020, in Seattle WA.  Ida grew up in Newington CT, contracted polio in 1953 and was cared for in a hospital in her hometown for almost two years until she regained the use of her upper body muscles and was able to use a wheelchair.  She promptly married the love of her life Jared Ralph Curtis in 1956.  They had two children Jared Randall Curtis (Randy) in 1960 and Idamay Curtis in 1961.  In 1971 Ida and her family moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where Jared taught English Literature and Ida was a student advisor and administrator in the Department of Geography at Simon Fraser University.  After retirement from SFU, Ida began to write novels and travelogues. Ida and Jared left Canada in 2002 for Seattle to be near son Randy, his partner Amy, and their granddaughter Alice. When daughter Idamay moved from Calgary the following year the family was together again. Ida continued to pursue her writing, published her memoir “My Polio Memoir: 1953-2016” in 2016 and won an award from Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association in 2014. Ida’s historical romance “Song of Isabel” was published in 2018, and the sequel “The Nun’s Betrothal” will be released in July 2020.  Ida and Jared moved to Mirabella Seattle in 2009, where Ida was an active member of the book club, the knitting club, and, of course, the writing workshop. In her last two years she lived in the skilled nursing section of the Health Services department of Mirabella, where she won the hearts of staff members with her humor, kindness, tenacity, and beautiful smile. Ida will be remembered for the unflappable optimism and adaptability that fueled her remarkable ability to overcome adversity.  A Celebration of Ida’s life is planned and will be announced online here on this website.

A celebration of life will be held on:
March 15, 2020
2-3:30 pm
West Dining Room
Mirabella Seattle
116 Fairview Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98109

In lieu of flowers, if you feel so inclined, you may send a gift in Ida’s name to Mirabella Seattle Foundation, a nonprofit charity that aids Mirabella residents and staff who need financial assistance, supports Mirabella Seattle Health Center projects that aid and comfort residents under its care, and assists charities and programs that serve our neighbors in the wider community: send to The Mirabella Seattle Foundation, 116 Fairview Avenue N, Seattle, WA 98109.


It was my pleasure and great good fortune to work with Ida for so many years in the Geography Department at SFU. Ida was a wonderful servant and ambassador for Geography bringing composure, insight, fairness and good humour in all she did. Ida was always a source of calmness, trust and wisdom and an endless source of help and comfort to me, as well as being incredibly efficient. My day was always improved by simply talking to Ida, a sense shared by all who knew her. That in her retirement she should so actively successfully pursue new interests testifies to her ongoing desire to 'seize the day' in her own seemingly effortless way. RIP Ida, and my condolences to Jared and family. Roger
Roger Hayter

A brave life, and an example to others.

My condolences to Jared


~Paul Delany

Dear Jared and family,

Our hearts ache with grief for you at this incredible loss.
Ida was and will always be a part of our family. You are both considered family and our memories of our time together at Heather Place in Vancouver are so cherished.
I remember Ida being such a powerful, kind and compassionate person - who was never shy about asking questions and inquiring about how life was for us - especially when we were new parents. And the fact that you and Ida took our new born daughter into your life as if she were your own grand-daughter was such an act of love and kindness. I don’t know how I would have survived the start of motherhood without your added support and care for our family.

Having read Ida’s first book, the Song of Isabel, it’s such a blessing to know her sequel will be published and her writing shared with the world.

Tallisen and I were blessed to have spent time with you both in December, and will always remember just how much love was present in the silent, long gazes that occurred between you and Ida. It will always remain a testament to your beautiful life long relationship.

We send you all so much love.


~Marielle, Jason, Tallisen and Simon Smith

I’m sorry to hear about Ida’s passing. She was a kind, caring person. And how wonderful she was able to write so much in her retirement! Please accept our deepest sympathy.


Hiromi Sharon

Hiromi Matsui

I am so sorry to hear this. Ida was a dearfriend when she ran the SFU Alumni Association in the 1970s.

Christine Hearn

Oh, what a wonderful person! My memories of Ida are such happy ones. She and I spent many an afternoon at our workplace at SFU's Alumni Association office visiting, often talking about writing, while we performed our sometimes mindless tasks. A big one of those tasks was prepping alumni files so they could be digitized by the computer brains at the university -- filling in endless Scantron cards for the data processors -- sheesh! A few years ago, I tried finding her, but failed. Seattle. If only. So near and yet so far. Despite our positions (she was definitely the boss while I was the underling), we always found much in common. And if my astrological math is right, both Ida and I are not only both born under Aries, but also among those blessed enough to be born in the year of the Pig. I hope I will learn when her memorial will be, because if it's at all possible, I will want to be there. And yes, I am going to track down those books of hers!
Heidi Greco

I will miss Ida. Her grace and good humor will inspire me always. My thanks for the friendship.
Jayne Ann Krentz

I had the good fortune to meet Ida in the early 70s when we were on the first Contract Committee of SFU AUCE Local 2. She was the sensible yet remarkably punchy one that kept our tyro negotiators from self-destructing at the bargaining table. Later on we were charter members of a delightful book club that carried on for years discussing books of all genres. Eventually our meetings lasted entire Saturdays and included multi-course meals and much laughter. Ida, you were a remarkable person and I was so lucky to have you as a friend. Jared, my thoughts are with you.

Percilla Groves

Although I had not seen Ida for years, since the days when we were on the Contract Committee at SFU, I remember her well, and fondly, because it was always a pleasure to be in her company. Good-humoured, logical, and unflappable. So up-beat: and not because the Contract Committee lacked external and internal adversaries.

As an aside, I should say that I learned from Ida something that became a part of the discourse only years later: she was not 'confined to' a wheelchair, she wasn't 'in a wheelchair', she just used one. And on this note, I do remember her showing off her new state of the art, streamlined set of wheels, and joking about how she was going to keep the chrome polished. I had the sense that Ida enjoyed everything she did, and did it all very well.

My condolences to the family.
Cathy Pike

It was such a pleasure getting to know Ida when they lived in Vancouver. I remember her gentle good humour and warm hospitality. A remarkable woman. Sending our thoughts to the whole family.

Leith Davis

Dear Jar, Randy and Idamay, I want you to know that we, too, celebrate Ida's bright, rich and loving life. Jar, you and Ida were such a loving couple and did so much for each other, I know this is such a difficult time .. I've always admired Ida for so many things and especially the publication of her wonderful books.But mainly I'll always remember her for our great conversation , preparing yummy meals together, rocking on the porch those summer days and sharing hours of laughter with her throughout the years. Her delight in having Grandaughter Alice in her life was beyond words. Although our later years kept us miles and miles apart Ida has always held a special place in my heart. I send healing love and celebratory joy for a life well lived.
Frances Curtis Barnhart

I got to know Ida Curtis when I was an undergraduate student working my way through University. She worked in the Alumni office which was next door to Off Campus Housing where I worked. When times were slow we would visit. We became good friends, and stayed friends until she left our campus to move to Seattle. She was smart, talented, kind, and joyful. She made the world a better place, and I am thankful for knowing her, and for the time we spent together.

Lynn Kumpula

Not many of us can claim such a great run at life as Ida Curtis. To live with, and accept, - nay - encompass and surmount - a debilitating illness. Yet! Fulfill so many accomplishments! Fantastic work/academic life helping and being helped by generations of students. A handsome, devoted, attentive, and loving husband - inspired himself by this love to produce great works! Two beautiful children, lovely spouses, and a fantastic grandchild. Such wonderful friends. Author of a truly inspiring and amazing memoir. Author of one, and soon to be two, imaginative and historically accurate novels of Medieval Europe. Such a long and wonderful list of friends over such a long and wonderful and productive life! All of us are diminished by her passing. Because, as it was written so long ago, "No man is an Island..." and etc.
Peter Stekel

We have set a date and time for a gathering to celebrate the remarkable life of our dearly beloved Ida Curtis, Mum, Mom, Mimi, Idamom. When and where:

March 15, 2020
2-3:30 pm
West Dining Room
Mirabella Seattle
116 Fairview Avenue N
Seattle, WA 98109

If you would like to attend please RSVP to

There are two foods that always bring Ida to my mind --oatmeal cookies and spinach pie. I compare all oatmeal cookies and spinach pie to the yummy & delicious ones she made. Her versions are by far the best I've ever had and I cherish the memory of enjoying them with her and Jared.

Jane Summerfield

Dear Jared,
I was fortunate to get to know Ida when you were living in Vancouver and I was your realtor selling your Vancouver condo many years ago. I understood immediately what a brave and intelligent woman Ida was and have very fond memories of working with you both. Please accept my condolences,
Sincerely Carole Lieberman

Hi all. Sadly the celebration ofIda’s life today is canceled due to closure of the facility to visitors. Let’s all celebrate in our own way and stay tuned for new plans.

Idamay Curtis

For Ida Curtis

Never give up;
if necessary, give in,
move on, but never quit.
If it can’t be done
in the usual way,
find another path,
and above all, be kind.
First rule inherited
from father, Merf,
third from Fanny,
her unflappable,
big-hearted mother;
the middle rule
she did not invent
but made wholly her own.
Her iron resolve
limited tolerance—
an early lesson for children.
Yet none of us
knew any limit
to her love.
We met as actors
in a Drama Club play
late in the school year.
She claimed her eye
was fixed on me
some months before.
A few years on
I was hers on
entering her ward,
where she greeted me
with signature smile
lying flat on her back in bed.

When told she might
lie there always,
eating meals with a straw,
she mastered the skills
to sit up, balance,
eat from a tray.
When doctors said,
“You may be stuck there,
live life from a bed,”
this swimmer,
ice skater, skier
learned to transfer
from bed to chair
and back again.
Told she was unlikely
to go home
anytime soon
—perhaps not for years,
she trained like an athlete
to be her own woman.
Senior year completed
from hospital ward,
she graduated with her class,
returned to her parent’s home,
attended college,
and we married.
She was our compass,
our guide, our GPS,
our rock of calm
in roiling waters,
She gave us hope,
love, and laughter
in equal measure,
a steady beacon of sense.

She read our faces
with unerring skill,
sensing our doubt, our pain,
our highs and lows.
She knew our hearts.
Our hearts were hers.
As we walk on
Let steps be firm
If not as quick,
Let songs be sweet
If not robust,
And let our hearts be kind.
Jared Ralph Curtis

I knew Ida 50 years ago, and never saw her again. But I never forgot her and her example. Or her smile. Or Jared, of course.

- Ken Johnston

Make a donation to People's Memorial