Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of three profiles on local women nominated for the Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame. An induction ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 14 in the atrium at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro. Tickets are $16, and are available at The Times-Gazette.
Luise Curtis was just 10 years old when she watched Hitler’s Germany collapse from her home in Nuremburg in 1945, and over the next 73 years, those experiences shaped her into what she is today: a hero to heroes.
Those who know her say that Curtis, now 83, is making a lasting impact on the lives of veterans through tireless, humble service.
The sacrifices Curtis saw being made by soldiers on both sides of the conflict made an indelible impression on her as a young girl growing up during World War II.
Curtis came to the United States in 1959 as the bride of an American soldier, with two children in tow. She had no friends, no family and didn’t speak a word of English. Her children said she taught herself how to write the language and learned to speak English by watching TV commercials.
Desiring deeply to become an American, Curtis was told her path to citizenship would take five years. She did it in three.
Curtis arrived in Highland County in 1960 and worked part-time as a waitress and factory worker to support her family.
Later in life, she met and married U.S. Navy veteran Robert Curtis, who was actively involved in Hillsboro VFW Post 9094.
It was that marriage that opened up a unique avenue for her to serve her community and become dynamically involved in the lives of area veterans.
Curtis started going to local nursing homes every week and bringing snacks while visiting veterans. She later got more involved in activities that helped her identify and serve local veterans, reminding them that people in the community truly care and appreciated their service to this country.
Her husband died five years ago, and it was during that time of loss that she gained a greater focus on what her life’s work would be.
Curtis made her husband a promise to continue her work with veterans, since it was he who introduced her to their lives and the daily struggles they face.
She has been an active volunteer in veterans issues for more than 15 years, and has received many awards and much recognition.
Being heavily involved in both the Amvets and veterans programs, she often goes to the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs facility to help serve meals while bingo is being played.
Curtis also assists with meals at the Rocky Fork Lake Amvets and helps out monthly at the Ohio Veterans Home in Georgetown.
Three times a month, she cooks for 30 to 50 veterans, visits local nursing homes several times a week bringing much appreciated items, and is a familiar face at the homeless shelter.
Curtis is a member of Amvets, the VFW, Tea Time Tootsies, Precious Pearls and the Highland County Senior Citizens.
Last year, she was recognized by the Department of Veterans Affairs for committing an amazing 2,040 hours of volunteer service.
Curtis will tell you she is proud to be an American and feels that helping those who have served our country is her way of thanking them for the life of freedom she enjoys — and it all began with a little girl growing up in Nazi Germany and seeing first-hand how quickly those freedoms can be taken away.
Tim Colliver can be reached at 937-402-2571.