James Broughton Curtis was born on May 29, 1938. We imagine that he smiled and welcomed the world with his deep, hypnotic radio-sounding voice, “Wonderful!” He uttered that same optimistic word, just days before his passing on Feb. 1, 2023.
Jim had fond memories of his Minneapolis childhood, despite his father, Ralph’s passing when Jim was just six years old. Jim and his older brother, Jack, surrounded the family Christmas tree with gifts for their mother, Ellen, every year. They may have been poor, but they were rich in love and created magical memories.
Jim’s flair for business in the service industry was initiated as a young boy. He ran the soda fountain at a drugstore. Jim had a passion for helping and serving people, always striking up a “wonderful” conversation. He eventually opened his own restaurant, the “Pizza Plaza” in Minneapolis before moving to Montana in the 60s. As an avid fisherman, the mountain lakes were calling his name.
Jim became a business partner in the Viking Lodge in Whitefish, where the Lodge at Whitefish Lake currently stands. His brag book and an article in the Flathead Beacon highlighted the 25-plus foot, flocked Christmas tree that brought visitors from across the Northwest and Canada to witness the 1000-plus glass bulbed splendor.
Jim’s entrepreneurship and partnerships bloomed for decades in the Flathead Valley. Tunnel Creek Undevelopment Corporation, Glacier Wilderness Resort, 1889 Territorial Restaurant and Café Al Dente held a big piece of Jim’s heart long after his departure from those ventures.
Jim was able to step back from the owner and managerial role, when he joined the family-run, Meadow Lake Resort. Jim took pride in his concierge position and helped many couples and families have the best vacation of their lives. He booked their fishing trips, horseback rides, theater performances and many more amazing activities the Flathead Valley offers. He kept a large three-ring binder that is bulging with comment cards from guests, raving about Jim’s impeccable service.
A few years ago, Jim suffered a stroke, which shook his world but not his love of people. Jim spent his final years still enjoying the things he loved most, his faithful pup Tira (named after his favorite dessert, tiramisu), theater performances, a rich glass of merlot, a chance at the machines at the local casino, keeping up with current events on the news and embracing his long-lasting friendships.
Jim is preceded in death by his father and mother, Ralph and Ellen Curtis. He is survived by his brother Jack Curtis of Minneapolis; nephew Jeffrey (Julie) and their children Jack and Samantha of Rogers, Minnesota; niece, Jody Curtis Petter (Joe) and their children, Allison, and twin boys, Andrew and Aiden of Apple Valley, Minnesota.
A celebration of life will be held at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home in Kalispell on Friday, Feb.10 at 1 p.m. A reception will follow at The Springs in Whitefish.