Curtis E. Ward
February 17, 1921 - August 23, 2014

Curtis Eugene Ward was born in Algona, Iowa, on 17 February 1921 to Nannie Worster Ward and Harry Ward.  He lived on the family farm with two brothers, Don and Kendell, and two sisters, Dorothy and Patricia, until 1935 when the big depression drove so many people out of farming.


He completed Algona High School, Class of 1938, and completed Iowa State College, class of 1942, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and membership in engineering scholastic honorary societies Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu.  He was a member of Theta Chi fraternity.


His work experience, after the earlier farm chores, started with being a projectionist in a small theater in Algona in 1936, followed by being relief projectionist at Ames Theater at Iowa State College in 1938 through graduation in 1942.  During the college years he worked summers as operator and life-guard at the Algona Municipal Swimming Pool.


After graduation he worked for Westinghouse Electric at the Bloomfield, New Jersey and Fairmont, West Virginia plants as factory engineer on microwave vacuum tubes 1942 thru 1943, he then joined the US Naval Reserve as an Ensign with duty on Destroyer Escorts doing convoy duty and enemy sub-hunting work in the Atlantic.  After the sea duty, he taught electronics at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California until released from active duty in 1946.


He joined Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1946 in their new vacuum-tube laboratory and worked there as an engineer until 1950 when he traveled west to join a start-up company called Varian Associates in San Carlos, California.


He worked at Varian until he retired in 1981, having helped the company grow to international strength.  His efforts produced 22 U.S. patents and 4 British patents in his name.


He married Frances Ellet on 7 December 1950 and they had four children: Joy, Larry, Jonathan and Nancy, which in due time resulted in 15 Grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.  They lived in Palo Alto, California and later, in Los Altos, California before retiring in Stayton, Oregon, then to Sublimity, Oregon.


Moving to Stayton after retirement in 1981 he designed and had built a 3500 square-foot house with active and passive solar heating.  The solar system was very successful, producing 75% of the heat and hot-water for the house over each year’s time.


Curt and Fran were active in a number of volunteer projects in Stayton.  Those include:

  1. Two “Cycle-Oregon” events having as many as 1000 cyclists.

  2. Stayton-Sublimity Chamber of Commerce

  3. Stayton Public Library.  Curt was the City’s representative during design and construction.

  4. Stayton High School Cafeteria, serving as construction supervisor during this volunteer project.

  5. Jordan Covered Bridge rebuild, member of the construction and fund-raising committee.

  6. Stayton-Jordan Covered Bridge.  When the Jordan Bridge was destroyed by fire, Curt drew a complete set of plans for a new bridge to duplicate the Jordan Bridge, secured the building permit and supervised the construction.

  7. Stayton Memorial Pool cover building.  Curt served as the City’s representative during construction.

  8. Fran and Curt, particularly Fran, were active in establishing Neighborhood Watch in Stayton.

  9. Oregon Covered Bridge Festival.  Both Curt and Fran are active in “anything that needs doing” in helping this nationally-known event to be successful.  They built the 1/6th scale covered bridge, “The Little Bridge”, used in parades in Stayton, Sublimity, Aumsville, and Portland to advertise the Covered Bridge Festival and Stayton.

When trouble with arthritis in his knees made working the large garden on the hillside lot in Stayton difficult, Curt and Fran designed and had built in 2002 a 1600 square-foot home in Marian Estates, the retirement community in Sublimity, Oregon.  This final home has a garden in flat ground, with raised beds for vegetables.


Curt passed away at his home in Sublimity on August 23, 2014.  He was 93 years old.  At his request, no services will be held.  He requested that his ashes be scattered at sea. A Celebration of Life and Community Thank You to Curt and Fran will be held 1pm-4pm, Saturday, September 20th, on the Stayton-Jordan Covered Bridge in Pioneer Park, Stayton.


Those who wish to may contribute in his name to:

Stayton Public Library Foundation
515 N. First Avenue
Stayton, OR 97383

Willamette Valley Hospice
1015 Third St. NW
Salem, OR 97304


Dear Aunt Fran and family;

Our love and hearts go to all of you as you reflect the rich and wonderful life of Uncle Curt.  He was an inspiration to so many and did so much good in his lifetime.  We are blessed to have been part of his family.  Know we are thinking of you and understand the relief and yet the loss you are now going through.  We went through a similar time when our daughter Sue died.  You are relieved Uncle Curt is not in pain any more and yet saddened that he is no longer physically present.  His presence is always with you in memory and that can never be taken away.

Know we love you all.

Tag and Warren Swartz and family

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