Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ginny Curtis Plaque Dedicated At Edgar Park

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—When Mary Virginia “Ginny” Curtis was a young woman near her 20s, her bright smile and boundless energy captivated and motivated those around her—leading the young woman to represent the city as Miss James Edgar Park and then as Miss Brockton.
Nearly 70 years later and seven months after her death last September at 91 years old, Curtis' youthful vigor, all-around leadership and nearly century-long feisty determination to get things done in the city will long be remembered after friends and family dedicated a plaque in her honor in a corner of Curtis’ beloved James Edgar Park during Saturday’s 7th annual “Keep Brockton Beautiful” day—an event she spearheaded through her work at James Edgar Park.
“When she was younger she was really pretty and always upbeat,” said state Senator Thomas Kennedy, following the ceremony Saturday, April 23, 2011.
“She was a hot-spirited Irish girl with red hair,” he said. “Her roots are in this soil,” Kennedy said pointing to the earth of James Edgar Park.
Kennedy, whose family lived in the Edgar Park neighborhood along with Curtis and the Marciano family, said Curtis won the Miss James Edgar Park pageant and went on to win Miss Brockton when Curtis was in her late teens to early 20s around 1940 when each neighborhood held beauty pageants and each winner then vied for the city-wide title—an honor complete with parade and confetti.
“It was a big thing back then,” Kennedy said. “She was always a standout,” he said.
The pageants may have faded through time, but Curtis shined on.
Born Nov. 1, 1918, as a young woman Curtis raised two children Nancy and Nick with late husband Henry E. Curtis. She worked as a secretary and tirelessly gave her time and energy to many community organizations and at St. Patrick Church she served as Eucharist Minister and Altar Server.
Her niece, Marie Long, who came from Grafton for the dedication, said Curtis was as well-loved by her family as Brockton-at-large.
"She was just a wonderful aunt," Long said. "She was always involved, with the church and the city--she was a great lady," she said. (Pictured above with Curtis' son Nick)

Curtis was also a founding member of Brockton Interfaith Community, a board member of the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, involved with the Council on Aging, a neighborhood Crime Watch Leader,
She was politically active as a member of the Democratic City Committee and worked on many campaigns and committees in Brockton.
She led fundraising efforts over the years for the Brockton Public Library, Brockton Library Foundation, St. Patrick Church and the Council on Aging.
Curtis was also one of Brockton Neighborhood Health Center’s founding board members and was honored by the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers in 2009 with the Joseph M. Smith Consumer award for her outstanding service to the board over the years. In 1999 she received the Enterprise Champion of the City award for her extraordinary contributions to the city and was also awarded Woman of the Year by the Commission on Women’s Issues.
As a community activist Curtis helped launch last Saturday’s 7th annual clean-up—a citywide effort that began, officials said, through Curtis’ example of organizing cleanups of Edgar Park in the spring and the fall.
Not one to let things remain status quo, Curtis also took it upon herself to plant many of the brightly flowering plants and shrubs that border the playgrounds courts, fences and sitting areas.
During a ceremony to dedicate a flower-surrounded boulder bearing a plaque with a picture of Curtis and a sentiment, numerous city and state officials remembered Curtis’ help not only with their elections but her guidance as a person as she watched over the park and neighborhood from a three-story house at the corner of Fuller and Winthrop streets. (House pictured above)
“She would keep track if I made it to church,” Monahan said. “She would point a finger and ask me if I had been to mass,” he said, adding she had also been a babysitter for young state Senator Thomas Kennedy.
“She really kept an eye on us kids in the neighborhood and she really loved this park,” Monahan said. “This is a great tribute to her,” he said.
(Photo of Curtis at top courtesy of Curtis family)

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