Neil entered mortality in a hurry on the 10th day of October 1976, in Blythe, California. His mother, Carlene Jewel Hancock Curtis, always said he came a little too quickly for her and her husband, Samuel Frederick Curtis Jr., because he didn’t develop as her other children did. Neal was autistic.
We just loved him for who he was, not a label he carried. We didn’t understand autism like we do today, but his siblings all came to love and adore his quirks, his mischievous smile, and his infectious laugh. Often that laugh was because he was being a little troublemaker, getting into something he shouldn’t, and enjoying the reactions he got. I promise you, his siblings provided him with many reactions.
His smile was all genuinely Neil and was ever present, unless he was upset with you. He never remembered that for long though and was soon your best friend again. He was beloved by all and his happy, friendly manner endeared him to everyone he met - and I mean everyone. No one was a stranger. He wanted to talk with and shake the hand of everyone he met. People were his world. Unfortunately, Covid destroyed that for him. He didn’t understand why he couldn't see people, and that led to his death.
Sometimes when Neil shook your hand it was a ruse to distract you from the other hand that was checking your pockets for gum. He wasn’t supposed to have gum, so naturally he always wanted it. He also loved phones, had his own phone list, and called friends and family frequently just to say hello. The cell phone connected him to his tribe. He thrived on that.
People predicted that Neil wouldn't do much in his life, but he proved all of the doctors wrong. He grew up and learned to work, he gathered friends like bouquets of flowers, he spread joy like the snowfall, and even trained for and ran a marathon. He loved movies and made good use of all of the VCR movies he collected over his 44 years. His favorite food was ice cream and his favorite person was his Mom. Now, other people will tell you that they were his favorite person because that’s what he often said, but truly his heart belonged to his beautiful and endlessly patient mother.
He wanted more than anything to follow his siblings and have his own wedding, but that was not possible. He longed to have a special someone. Now, in the spirit world he is free to flirt and hold hands and pursue a relationship that God has promised he will eventually have. We rejoice, knowing he is happy and unchained from the body that held his noble spirit captive.
He is with God. He is kept company, in heaven, by his father, Sam Curtis, who preceded him in death and the many ancestors who came before him. Heaven has a strapping tall young man, full of life who now enjoys perfection promised to those who have limited capacity in life.
His father Samuel Frederick Curtis Jr. preceded him in death.
Neil is survived by his mother, Carlene (Bernie Starkey, spouse) of South Jordan. His large family mourns his passing including his siblings: Melonie Curtis of Arizona, Boyd Curtis of Utah, Mechel Wall (Barry Wall, spouse) of Arkansas, Clark Curtis (Stacey Buntjer Curtis, spouse) of Utah, Kent Curtis of Utah, Eva Grace of Hawaii, Marie Farr (Ryan Farr, spouse) of Utah and lastly Marium Curtis Seidel (John Seidel, spouse) of Oregon.
Although the family is spread far and wide, we will gather on January 20, 2021 at 2 p.m. to celebrate his life in a graveside service held in the Salem Utah Pioneer Cemetery. Neil will be laid to rest next to his father and pioneer ancestors until the resurrection, when we will see him again.
Many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews will miss Neil and his larger-than-life presence at family events. Dave Eaton of Eaton Alliance will always remember Neil as his very first client and the beginning of the business he started with Neil in caring for those with limited physical or mental abilities but unlimited possibilities. Thank you Dave and others for loving him like a son and brother.