Cover photo for George Graydon Curtis's Obituary
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1936 George 2018

George Graydon Curtis

January 4, 1936 — May 5, 2018

George Graydon Curtis, 82, of Westfield passed away on Saturday, May 5 at the Center for Hope Hospice & Palliative Care in Scotch Plains.

Don was born on January 4, 1936 in Rochester, New York, the only child of the late George Graydon, Sr. and Dorothea Smith Curtis. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemistry from the University of Rochester in 1958 and a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Organic Chemistry from Cornell University in 1962.

Don joined Union Carbide Corporation in New York City and later Esso Research and Engineering Company (now ExxonMobil) in Linden, New Jersey in 1964. During this time, he was awarded patents in Extreme Pressure Greases and Synergistic Grease Structure Modifiers. Lubricating greases he developed were used in highly pressurized situations, such as in the supersonic passenger airliner, the Concorde. His work has been cited numerous times over the years, including as recently as 2013 in the American Journal of Applied Chemistry.

In 1969, Don changed careers and joined the investment counsel group at Chase Manhattan Bank, N.A. from which he retired in 1988. Thereafter, he joined The Boston Safe Deposit and Trust Company of New York, a subsidiary of The Boston Company. From 1991-1995, Don worked at Brundage Story & Rose and then concluded his professional career at Tradition Capital Management from 2001-2003. He ascended to senior level positions in the private-client and institutional-equity groups, earning respect for his knowledge and dedication, attention to detail and insistence upon providing excellent, personalized client service.

Don was a member of The Presbyterian Church in Westfield for 52 years, where he served several terms as an Elder, was a member of the Investment Committee and held the position of Trustee. Don was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Echo Lake Country Club of Westfield. He served as Treasurer of The Westfield Historical Society and for many years was a member of the Westfield Board of Adjustment.

Don enjoyed many hobbies and pursuits over the years. In 1952 as a teenager, he became a licensed ham radio operator and early builder of short-wave radio communication equipment. As a member of the American Radio Relay League (AARL), he enjoyed communicating with ham radio enthusiasts around the world for 65 years. Don played the trumpet and the organ as a child and young adult and dabbled in oil painting, a hobby which he actively resumed in retirement by attending Monday afternoon art classes at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey in Summit. Don grew up swimming, fishing and boating at Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. He later enjoyed ice skating at Cornell and in Central Park, and skiing with his family at Stowe, Vermont.

Don's greatest joys came from spending time with his family. He particularly enjoyed climbing the Continental Divide by steam engine as a child, touring Europe by car with his wife Jane in the summer of 1964, driving across country visiting our nations' National Parks in 1986 and visiting his daughter in France in 1992. Other memorable trips included transatlantic crossings and journeys along European waterways.

Surviving Don are his wife of 54 years, Jane Wherly Curtis of Westfield; daughter Susan Curtis Tonking of New York, New York; son and daughter-in-law David and Karen Curtis of Branchburg, New Jersey and three grandchildren, Kathryn Tonking and Katie and Alexander Curtis.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 2 at 11:00 a.m. at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield. A private interment service has been held with arrangements by Gray Funeral Home, 318 East Broad Street in Westfield. You may go to for on line condolences.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to mission work at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, 140 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, N.J. 07090 or The Westfield Historical Society, 314 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, N.J. 07090.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of George Graydon Curtis, please visit our flower store.


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