Former mayor McCurry dies

Services will be Friday for former Grand Junction Mayor Bill McCurry, who served a dozen years at the head of a city he served for 20 years, was a master Grand Mesa angler, avid golfer and a graceful recipient of the gentle joke.

McCurry died Sunday. He was 79.

McCurry was part of the council elected in 1986, when the previous council was recalled.

“Bill had a real passion for what was going on,” said Rags Ragsdale, who served as mayor of the new council. “He was very community-minded.”

McCurry joined the Grand Junction Fire Department in 1952 and retired in 1972, then went on to work for 13 years at the Mesa County Jail.

His stint on the council was the “culmination of a career,” serving on the governing board of the city for which he had worked, said Paul Nelson, who served with him on the council elected in 1986.

McCurry’s golf skills paid off for him and Reford Theobold, who won the Colorado Municipal League’s annual golf tournament one year, largely because of McCurry’s ability to read the slope of greens and putt accordingly, Theobold said.

Theobold repaid the favor in 2002, when he and McCurry were on the same side of a divisive vote on the council, the rezoning of property at 12th Street and Patterson Road for a new supermarket.

McCurry and he opposed it, but McCurry inadvertently voted the wrong way on a motion to halt the project, Theobold said. It was one of those motions in which a no vote would have allowed the project to go forward, a yes vote would have stopped it. He could hear McCurry muttering to himself “I got that wrong,” Theobold said.

Theobold asked that the 4-3 approval vote be retabulated.

“Nobody knew what was going on,” but McCurry voted “as he intended” on the second poll of the council, Theobold said, making it 4-3 to strike down the project.

McCurry, who “had an exasperated way of talking” to himself about such matters, thanked him later, Theobold said. “He knew what I had done and why.”

Theobold, Nelson and other city officials still giggle when remembering a golf tournament retreat in which McCurry decided to throw off a staffer by tossing his false teeth onto the practice green and telling him to putt those. Legend has that the staffer, Steve Anderson, rolled the teeth into the hole, but the incident was far from over.

Nelson soon after came across a set of chattering wind-up teeth and at a work session in Grand Junction some days later, he wound up the teeth and placed them on the table.

There was a moment of shocked silence, Nelson recalled, “Then everybody lost it all at once.

It’s my favorite Bill McCurry memory by far. He wasn’t offended. He kept the teeth.”

McCurry wasn’t just a golfer. He spent much of the summer atop Grand Mesa in search of trout.

“He knew which lakes were hot and which were not,” said Sam Rainguet, city spokeswoman, who said she regretted never being able to take him up on his invitation to go fishing on the mountain. She did, however, cast a spinner he gave her “and it worked quite nicely.”

McCurry “had a long, lovely retirement, which I would wish for anybody,” Nelson said.

McCurry served in the U.S. Navy and had served as a commander of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Legion of the West, Camp No. 7 in Mesa County.


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