Former state Rep. Israel 'Bo' Curtis ...

Former state Rep. Israel 'Bo' Curtis dies at 79

There are 1 comment on the Alexandria Daily Town Talk story from Feb 17, 2012, titled Former state Rep. Israel 'Bo' Curtis dies at 79. In it, Alexandria Daily Town Talk reports that:

Israel Curtis left an indelible mark on the community he called home for nearly eight decades. Known by friends and family as 'Bo,' Curtis was a teacher and coach who became the first black state legislator from Alexandria since Reconstruction when he was elected in November 1991 to serve District 26. He served that district for 16 years before being term-limited from seeking a fifth term in 2007. Curtis died Thursday morning at the age of 79. Prior to his election to the state Legislature, Curtis served three terms on the Rapides Parish School Board. Charles Frederick Smith Jr. grew up in the same South Alexandria community as Curtis, who was nine years older than Smith. Smith's father baptized Curtis at Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church, and later would coach the younger Smith in football at Peabody High School. 'We always had a close relationship,' said Smith, who later lived on the same street as Curtis. What Smith said he always will remember about Curtis is his desire to make a difference in Alexandria. It was a message he delivered to his players and students at Peabody. 'He always wanted to make a difference,' said Smith, a former member on the Alexandria City Council. '... He did not want to live and die and not make a difference for the community, from the school board all the way to the Legislature. When he was coaching us, he wanted us to contribute something back to the community.' Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields, who worked with Curtis for the better part of a decade, described the former legislator as a 'warrior' who fought for the needs of Central Louisiana. As the District 26 representative, Curtis represented most of Alexandria and parts of Pineville, and while he did focus on his district, Fields said that Curtis' impact was 'far more reaching.' 'He worked well across the lines with other legislators, not only in this area but elsewhere across the state,' Fields said. Former Alexandria City Councilman Myron Lawson said that Curtis was 'a good man' and 'a driving force in the community.' Lawson grew up on 14th Street about five houses down the road from Curtis, who served as a mentor for many young people growing up in South Alexandria, Lawson said. 'He was always a role model and one that stood up for the community, oftentimes at his expense,' Lawson said. Former Alexandria City Councilman Jonathan Goins, who also grew up in South Alexandria, called Curtis 'one of Cenla's brightest lights.' 'Rep. Curtis was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend,' Goins said. 'He was a true public servant who believed in fairness, justice and opportunity for all of his constituents. I will always remember his commitment to education, and the fighting spirit he brought to every cause and every challenge he faced. He will be missed by his family, as well as the entire community and the Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church.' During his 16 years in the Legislature, Curtis worked on a number of major projects in the area. Perhaps the most important to him was the Rapides Primary Health Care Center, which opened on Willow Glen River Road in 1996 to provide health care opportunities to the poor and underprivileged in South Alexandria. 'It was the first of its kind in the area,' Curtis told The Town Talk in 2007. Smith, who said that Curtis will be remembered for years for his accomplishments in Alexandria, said that Rapides Primary Health Care Center is now a success because of Curtis' efforts. 'He said we need something where people in the community that can't afford (medical expenses), where they have somewhere to go,' Smith said. Fields said that Curtis was instrumental in the development of the Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site in Pineville and also helped move forward several needed road projects, such as Susek Drive. 'He always asked me about Susek Drive and how things were progressing, what did he need to do,' Fields said. '... That was a major project he was really into.' Lawson, meanwhile, said that the legislation creating the Greater Alexandria Economic Development Authority and the Alexandria Central Economic Development District could not have happened without Curtis. In addition, Curtis played a key role in helping bring Union Tank Car Co. to the Alexandria area, Lawson said. Not only did Curtis serve nearly 30 years as an elected official on the school board and in the Legislature, he also worked as a teacher and coach, was a member of the Central Louisiana Drug Council, helped found the Central Louisiana Elected Officials Organization, helped organize the Magnolia Peace Officers Association and was a captain in the Rapides Parish Sheriff's Auxiliary. Arrangements will be announced by Gonzaque-Williams Mortuary.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at Alexandria Daily Town Talk.

Geraldine Gerry W Jones

Porter, TX

#1 Feb 24, 2012
I wish to express my sympathy to the family of Representative Israel Cutis. I remember his kindness shown to the family of my mother, Mrs. Anna Willis, who is now deceased. I want you all to know that my prayers and condolences are with the family at this time of bereavement.

Geraldine W. Jones and Family

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