Don Curtis was one of our oldest readers and, writing here well into his 90s, pehaps our oldest active commenter. I just got word from Al in KY that Don passed away July 30th, at the ripe old age of 94.

Al learned the news from the latest edition of the Budget newspaper. Here’s the information from the paper’s Bellefontaine, OH scribe:

“Bellefontaine, Ohio Aug. 3 — Don, Curtis, the father of Mark Curtis, passed away on Sun. (July 30) at our local hospital. Mark, who is a member in Middle District, requested for the viewing and service be held by our people and so the viewing was held on Tues. evening and funeral on Wed. morning in the shop building at Leon Troyers’. Middle District ministers Ernest Bontrager, Leon Troyer, and Jerald Bontrager spoke as did Don’s pastor from Belle Center. The body was taken to Columbus for burial after a meal after the services.”

I valued what Don shared here over the years, including frequently relating how things worked in the Belle Center, Ohio Amish community, which his son Mark became a member of 15 years ago.

Don served as a link between Mark and Belle Center and this website, and I know a lot of readers have appreciated Don’s and Mark’s contributions as well.

He was a prolific commenter, and over the years left over 400 of them here on the site.

Don, who was a WW II Army veteran and didn’t suffer foolishness lightly, had a blunt and clear style to his writing, which I appreciated in a sometimes over-polite world. And not to mention a sharp sense of humor.

Don frequently responded to reader questions and wrote on topics including prayer caps and bonnets, the Belle Center Ordnung, Thanksgiving and Christmas in Belle Center, why some converts to the Amish don’t make ithow Amish reuse and repurpose everyday itemshow to find an Amish pen pal, a humorous experience involving Mark’s horse and a hot-air balloon (“To a horse it is a great big monster coming out of the sky that likes to eat horses”), games and practical jokes at an Amish youth supper, Mark’s library, Down’s Syndrome children and the Amish, Amish homemade wine, Mark’s washing machine, and many more.

Don was also instrumental in putting together some memorable main page posts with the help of Mark, including our Amish Mystery Supper post, and several Pennsylvania Dutch vocabulary quizzes.

Don was in the rare position of being an English parent to an Amish convert. I think he liked having a forum here to share his thoughts and experiences as well as relay information from Mark. We certainly benefited from it as well.

I had a chance to visit Don on a couple of occasions when I was visiting Mark. Don lived not far from Mark in the little town of Belle Center, along with his three-legged dachsund Fritzi, a spunky canine who he mentioned here from time to time. We went out to eat once at a local restaurant. As far as I know Don still drove into his older years.

Don once shared a touching post about losing his wife to cancer, and how the Belle Center Amish responded. An excerpt describing his wife’s chemo treatments:

Her resistance was so low that we had to wear masks and gowns to visit her. Mark and I were there every day. I would be there during the day and Mark would come in the evening after school. And every week that she was in the hospital there was a van load of Amish came down from Belle Center to visit her. They didn’t even know her. They only knew Mark from his going up to visit the Amish schools and making friends up at Belle Center. When she got out of the hospital after three months there, a van load of Amish men from Belle Center were there for us. They built wheel-chair ramps for our exterior doors. They widened our bathroom door so it was wheelchair accessible. I know these acts of Christian love extended to our family were part of the reason that Mark decided to join the Amish after retiring from teaching.

I hadn’t heard from Don in months; our last correspondence had been over email in January when he helped to set up a second mystery supper post. Don last commented on this site on the book Becoming Amish back in April.

Don will be missed. Our condolences go out to Mark and the rest of his family. Don’s obituary can be found online here.

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