Robert "Ted" Theodore Curran, 87, died peacefully in his sleep on July 10, 2019 in Traverse City.
Over the last 16 years he was a resident of Benzie County. As an adult he became an official member of the Society of Friends, generously sharing with all who knew him the Quaker wisdom of a life lived with purpose and a faith in the promise of every person's inner light.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from Haverford College (Bachelor of Arts in history and Russian, 1953) and Columbia University (Master of Arts in Russian history, 1955).
He worked and trained briefly in IBM's professional management program before joining the U.S. Foreign Service in 1955 as a public affairs officer. His diplomatic career led to postings in Washington, D.C. and around the world in Berlin and Tubingen, Germany (1956-1960), Beirut, Lebanon (1960-1961), Amman, Jordan (1961-1962), Taiz, Yemen (1963-1964), Mexico City (1968-1970), Kabul, Afghanistan (1974-1977) and Rabat, Morocco (1981-1984).
In 1984 he retired from the U.S. Foreign Service as career minister, the highest career rank. His diplomatic career afforded remarkable encounters and experiences from hosting Louis Armstrong in 1957 Germany to receiving assistance for a flat tire from King Hussein's body guard in the Jericho valley, escorting Ladybird Johnson through the 1967 Montreal World Expo, welcoming the Apollo 11 crew in Mexico City in 1969, teaching President Nixon how to 'abrazo' the president of Mexico, working closely with William Rogers in the U.S. State Department's Secretariat from 1970-1972, helping to guide Henry Kissinger on a tour of Afghanistan in 1976, picking up the American hostages from Iran in Algeria with President Carter in 1981, hosting President George Bush and Barbara Bush in 1983 Morocco, and playing a midnight round of golf with the King of Morocco.
Following his retirement, he joined the executive leadership team of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty based in Munich, Germany (1984-1987). In 1987 he returned to the U.S. to become president of Springfield College in Illinois (1987-1990). From Springfield College he moved to New York to become president of the Foreign Policy Association (1990-1993) and then returned to Washington, D.C. to serve as executive director of the American Institute for Foreign Study Foundation (AIFS Foundation) (1993-2005), continuing as a trustee from 2005-2017.
In retirement he lived in Benzie County and was an active member of a number of organizations. He served on the boards of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC), The Michigan Land Use Institute (now known as Groundwork), For Love of Water (FLOW), the International Affairs Forum and the Paul Oliver Memorial Hospital. He also served on the boards of George School and Sidwell Friends School.
His connection to Michigan began with his marriage to Marcia Mattson in 1956 (of Hillsdale). With her, he established his residency at Crystal Downs, Lake Township, and spent many summers there with their two daughters, their spouses and numerous friends and family around the Crystal Lake area, enjoying golf, tennis, hikes, shared meals, Gampi ball, whiffle ball, jokes, songs and stories, along with many incredible sunsets and starlit nights.
Ted loved playing golf and sharing that time with friends and family. The course at Crystal Downs Country Club was his favorite, even though he played courses all over the world. The game, itself, was a source of personal growth and great joy. The competition, the great outdoors, the test of temper, the revealer of character and the mindful requirements of golf encapsulated everything for him. While he lived in many different countries, his heart found a home in this special part of northwestern Michigan.
Ted was predeceased by his parents and his two brothers, Bill and Jac.
He is survived by his wife, Marcia; his two daughters, Sara and Diana; his sons-in-law, Ralph and Laris; four grandchildren, Ingrid, Augustus, Noah and Claire; and many, much loved extended family members.
It is impossible to capture the fullness of his life and contributions, but a brief account offers a glimpse. A pivotal time in his life came in 1949 when he joined an American Friends Service Committee work camp in post-World War II, Dusseldorf, Germany. There, he and 11 other young American men joined 12 German young men to live together in a partially bombed school and to work together on the reconstruction effort. He described it as a marvelous experience of camaraderie and collaboration. In his oral history (https//adst.org) he says, "I think the survival of the human spirit and people able to talk to one another and deal with one another was a great influence on my feeling that almost any human problem can be overcome if people of reason and intelligence can get together, particularly younger people." That was his abiding belief throughout his life. It gave purpose to his work, friendships and loves. Each of us touched by his inner light can carry on that belief in his honor.
The family extends heartfelt appreciation to the caregivers at Bay Ridge Assisted Living and Munson Hospice.
A memorial service is planned at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Beulah, for 2 p.m. on the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 23, 2019.
If you wish to honor Ted's memory, consider a gift to one of the organizations he actively supported.
The Bennett-Barz Funeral Home in Beulah is in charge of arrangements; www.bennett-barzfuneralhome.com.
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