Ben Curry passed away on Friday, January 11, 2013. Ben was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania in 1923 to Ben R. Curry and Abigail M. Curry. They and Ben's two brothers, William H. (Bill) Curry and Jack C. Curry moved west and settled in Le Grand, California in 1925. Ben was a lively and bright child who loved growing up in the small farming town of Le Grand where his father was a Chemistry teacher and Principal of Le Grand High School and his mother was a Registered Nurse. As a boy, Ben loved hunting, fishing and playing basketball. Ben loved reading stories of pilots and aces from the First World War and dreamed of becoming a pilot as a child. Ben graduated from Le Grand High School and attended Marin Junior College. After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, Ben signed up for flight cadet school in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He piloted B-24s and B-17 Flying Fortresses in the Army during World War Two. At the age of 20 Ben took off at midnight and piloted a B-17 bomber across the North Atlantic from Gander, Newfoundland, Canada to Wales to begin his active duty in the European Theater of War as a pilot based in East Anglia, England.
After the war ended Ben resumed his education at Fresno State College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Political Science. He picked up his last few units needed for his degree from Fresno State at the last session they offered of summer school classes at Huntington Lake, where he met his lifelong love, Nancy Gwosden. She was taking summer classes there and camping with her two aunts who had accompanied her out to California for the summer from their home in Pennsylvania. Ben fell in love and pursued her and corresponded with her for five years before convincing her to accept his proposal of marriage and to move 3,000 miles west from her parents and family. While he attempted to keep in touch with Nancy, he attended the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco on the G.I. Bill, where he was an honor student. He received his Juris Doctor degree in 1950 and passed the California Bar Exam on his first attempt, then taking a job as an attorney for Cammie Haden and Robert H. Haden in their law offices in Dinuba and Visalia, California.
In 1952 Ben Curry and Nancy Gwosden were married in Dinuba, California. Ben lived and worked as an attorney for five years in Dinuba while Nancy worked as a school teacher, before moving to Merced where he took a job as a Deputy District Attorney working for D.A. Steve Galvin from 1955-1960 during which time he served as Chief Deputy D.A. Ben left the D.A.'s office and started a private law practice. He also was the Merced County Public Defender from 1961-1966. In 1967 Ben joined the law firm of Silveira, Garret, Goul & Curry as a partner. He was a past President of the Merced County Bar Association, the Merced County Estate Planning Council, and the Merced County Law Library Board of Trustees. From 1983 1989 Ben and Dudley Goul practiced together as Goul & Curry until Dudley Goul's retirement. Ben's son Tom Curry joined him in the practice of law in 1992, forming the firm Curry and Curry. Ben and his son practiced together for 19 years before Ben retired in 2011.
Ben was a member of many community organizations at one time or another during his life. Ben loved to hunt and fish, to go on pack trips with friends and he enjoyed the outdoors. Ben became an avid skier and enjoyed taking annual ski trips to Utah with his friends. Ben was also a great cook, and his family loved his breakfasts, beef stews, lentil soups and his many delicious experiments in the kitchen. In his later years Ben enjoyed traveling with Nancy to reunions of his 25th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in various locations around the country.
Ben was an active member of Central Presbyterian Church in Merced for many years, and he served as an Elder and a Deacon for the church, where he enjoyed serving communion. Ben loved the Lord and was a faithful Christian to the end of his days. Ben was a true patriot and he served his country proudly and ably during time of war, as did both of his brothers and many of his ancestors and relatives. Ben was a very hard working and conscientious man, and a loving family man. Ben adored his wife Nancy and loved his children dearly and worked to provide them with a good life and to provide his children with educations and strong faith. Ben was honest and blunt, and he had a wonderfully funny and dry sense of humor. Ben was an avid reader and he was also a font of knowledge who could regale you with all kinds of information about history, literature and many other topics.
Ben was preceded in death by his parents, Ben R. Curry and Abigail M. Curry; brothers, William H. Curry, M.D. and 2nd Lt. Jack C. Curry, U.S. Army Air Corps.
Ben is survived by his wife of 60 years, Nancy; children, Patricia Ann (Pattee) Russell-Curry (John) and Thomas Marshall Curry, both of Merced; his grandchildren, Jason Russell (Carrie) of Tigard, Oregon, Jesse Russell-Curry of Merced, and Keddy Russell-Curry of San Jose, CA; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 26 at Central Presbyterian Church at 520 West 20th Street, Merced with reception to follow.
Arrangements are under the direction of Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home.