Gerald L. (Jerry) Curnes passed away peacefully from natural causes with his family at his side, on August 12, 2021. He was born January 29, 1935, on the kitchen table at the family home in Indianola, Iowa. His Uncle Dale was so excited to spread the news of his birth around town, that he backed the family car into a telephone pole. His father, Clarence, was a broom maker in a small factory, and his mother, Leta, was a stay-at-home housewife. His parents and his older sister, Charlotte, preceded him in death.
Gerald grew up as a small town, city boy with frequent visits to the nearby farms of grandparents, aunts and uncles. He enjoyed youth activities at church and being part of the Boy Scout troop. Long hikes and camping in all kinds of weather were among his favorites. He was very competitive, participating in four high school sports.
Early jobs included a newspaper route at age 11, part-time work at a grocery store, and three summers as a water-boy, then assistant timekeeper on a ten-story construction project. It was the hard-working, rough-talking iron workers that painted the simple, easier to pronounce name of “Jerry” on his hard hat. The nickname stuck with him.
In 1954, he moved to Moscow to attend the University of Idaho, majoring in forest management. He also became a contract student in the Navy ROTC, and enjoyed traveling with the rifle firing squad and marching drill team. Upon graduation in 1958, he joined the Navy and served as operation officer on the USS Embattle (MSO-434); a wooden hull, ocean-going minesweeper with home port in Long Beach, CA. His ship was part of a squadron of five minesweepers that made a tour of the Western Pacific area, doing joint naval exercises with several countries. Other operations were in Alaska and along the West Coast of North America.
Returning to civilian life in 1960, Jerry married Karrylle Howerton of Moscow and began a 61-year marriage and a 35-year career with the U.S. Forest Service. Together, they raised three children and lived in various communities in Northern Idaho and Western Montana. During the early years, his work was mostly in timber management and wildfire fighting. Later, it included government real estate activities such as land exchanges, purchases of private properties to add to wilderness areas, and the acquisition of many scenic easements along the classified Wild & Scenic Rivers system. In retirement, the couple moved back to Moscow and Jerry did part-time custodial work in the school district.
His greatest joy was his loving marriage of 61 years, and pride in the many achievements of their three children. He is survived by wife, Karrylle of Moscow; oldest son, Michael (and his husband, Bernard Sauvé) of Victoria, B.C.; Kris (and her wife, Sally Greene) of Moscow, ID; and Jeffrey (and his partner, William Knight) of Bainbridge Island, WA.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that donations in Gerald’s name be made to the Arboretum Associates, 875 Perimeter Drive MS 2281, Moscow, ID 83844-2281
A private, family graveside service will take place at Moscow Cemetery.
To send flowers to Gerald "Jerry" L. Curnes' family, please visit our floral store.
875 Perimeter Drive MS 2281, Moscow ID 83844-2281