The Colorado Water Congress extends its deepest sympathies to the Curtis family.
Ralph George Curtis
August 31, 1931 - December 4, 2018
Ralph, a fourth generation resident of the San Luis Valley, was raised in the Saguache area. He was born on August 31, 1931, to Ralph George Curtis and Sara Chapman Curtis. He grew up on the family ranch working sheep and milking cows. Ralph attended Saguache schools through his sophomore year in high school. As a junior and senior, he went to New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. Upon graduation, he entered the University of Colorado in Boulder on a football scholarship. Ralph, known as “Cactus Curtis,” was a football starter all four years, a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, and was president of his senior class. Because of his outstanding athletic career, he was inducted into the Living Legends Class of 2003 at the University of Colorado by the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Alumni “C” Club.
After serving in the ROTC during college, Ralph was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1953. He served in Virginia and Japan and was honorably discharged in 1955 as a 1st Lieutenant. With ranching in his blood, Ralph then returned to the ranch in Saguache to raise cattle with his wife Gloria (Glo), who he married on June 29, 1952. There they raised their two children Karen and Glenn. Ralph was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Saguache, on the Saguache County Planning Commission, and on the Mountain Valley School Board. He owned and operated the ranch until 1975. From 1978-1980, Ralph worked as the 208 Water Quality Coordinator and then served as the general manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District for 25 years until his retirement in 2005.
Ralph had a passion for land stewardship and water conservation as evident from the organizations in which he was involved. He was a member of the San Luis Valley and Colorado Cattlemen’s Associations for 60 years and became a charter member of the National Cattlemen’s Association in 1977. Ralph served as president and secretary/treasurer of the SLV Cattlemen’s Association and chairman of the CCA Water Steering Committee. He was on the board of supervisors for the Center Soil Conservation District and the board of directors of the National Association of Soil Conservation Districts, and served as president of the Colorado Association of Soil Conservation Districts. He also was on the board of the Rio Grande Headwaters Land Trust. Ralph was a member of the Colorado Water Congress for 23 years and served on the board of directors. In 2004, he was recognized as the Wayne Aspinall Water Leader of the Year.
Most notably, however, Ralph was a dedicated husband, father, and grandfather who loved spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Gloria (Glo) Edwards Curtis; his daughter Karen (Gary) Jennings of Fredonia, Texas; and his son Glenn (Cecilia) Curtis of Evergreen, Colorado. He has six grandchildren Moriah (Todd) Beyers of Abernathy, Texas; Heather (Matthew) Luensmann of Ft. Worth, Texas; Aaron (Jessica) Jennings of Lafayette, Indiana; Gabe (Kayla) Jennings of Lubbock, Texas; Kelly Curtis of Evergreen, Colorado; and Kyle Curtis of Evergreen, Colorado. He is also survived by six great grandchildren – Bryleigh, Zane, and Blayne Beyers, Nora and Hannah Luensmann, and Bronte Jennings – as well as his brother Charles Glenn Curtis of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins, and extended family and friends.
Ralph was preceded in death by his parents and his sister-in-law Patti Curtis.