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Iva Bernice Smith Curtis
Birth: Mar. 23, 1898
Wayne County
Michigan, USA
Death: Dec. 27, 1997
Lapeer County
Michigan, USA

Bernice was known by most as Grandma. It didn't matter if you were related by marriage, if you were a great (or great-great) grandchild, or just a neighbor down the street, everyone just called her Grandma. She never shied away from helping others, and thrived off canning fruits and vegetables and making jams from the fruits she grew in her own garden.

For some time, during the depression, she lived in Clawson with her growing family. Thomas built a kit home on the corner of Nahma and 14 Mile Rd in Clawson that also stands today (behind the current strip mall). Shortly after their youngest child, Arthur, was born, the family lost the home to the Great Depression and moved yet again to a smaller home in Clawson.

Tragedy struck the Curtis family in 1927, when their newborn son, Thomas Lee, died 10 days after birth.

After the house she grew up in with her parents left the family for many years, she and her husband were able to get it back into the family. She lived in that house on the corner on Glaspie and Burdick in Oxford until she was 93 years old. The house still stands at 77 Burdick in Oxford, but has been reverted from a main house with separate maid living quarters back to one full house. There is also a detached garage.


Lifelong Oxford resident Iva Bernice Curtis died Saturday, December 27, 1997. She was 99 years old.

Of note, Mrs. Curtis' father, Melvin Smith, helped build Arnold School on Lakeville Road, which Mrs. Curtis attended when she was six years old.

"She used to ride her horse to town to go to school," her son, Ralph said, adding that she grew up on a farm off of Lakeville Road, near the old Grampion ski lodge.

In 1914 she worked as a telephone operator in Oxford. She was married to Thomas J. Curtis on Nov. 29, 1916.

The Leader reported when Mrs. Curtis celebrated her 99th birthday on March 23, 1997. Over 100 friends and relatives attended the party at her daughter Elsie's home in Lapeer.

She is survived by her children, Mrs. Elsie (Murle) Davis of Lapeer, Ralph (Ruth) Curtis of Oxford, Charles (Marma) Curtis of Oxford and Arthur (Carol) Curtis of FL.

She is also survived by 22 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren and 22 great-great grandchildren and 130 foster grandchildren, "She was always 'grandma' to them," her daughter Elsie said.

Mrs. Curtis was preceded in death by her husband Melvin [sic: newspaper reported her husband as Melvin, her husband's name is Tom] in 1969 and her son Melvin "Keith" Curtis in 1981.

Funeral services were Wednesday, December 31 at Bossardet Funeral Home, Elder Arthur Curtis officiating. Interment is at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery of Oxford. Memorials to McLaren Hospice of Lapeer would be appreciated.

(transcribed on 8.21.2003 by Heather Curtis)
Oxford Leader
December 31, 1997, Page 17
Oxford, Michigan


Bernice was also preceded in death by another son, Thomas Lee Curtis. She never remarried and lived in the same house until she was 93. She lived alone until she was 96, at which time she moved into her daughter's house. She was a fixture in the Oxford community for over 80 years.


As of August 2011, only her youngest child remains living. 
Family links: 
  Melvin Wallace Smith (1870 - 1937)
  Ella Kipp Smith (1870 - 1903)
  Thomas James Curtis (1896 - 1969)*
  Elsie May Curtis Davis (1917 - 2011)*
  Ralph Russell Curtis (1920 - 2005)*
  Charles William Curtis (1922 - 2009)*
  Melvin Keith Curtis (1923 - 1981)*
  Thomas Lee Curtis (1926 - 1926)*
  Arthur Robert Curtis (1930 - ____)*
*Calculated relationship
Thomas J.
Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery
Oakland County
Michigan, USA
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Record added: May 27, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 37597107
Iva Bernice <i>Smith</i> Curtis
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Iva Bernice <i>Smith</i> Curtis
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Iva Bernice <i>Smith</i> Curtis
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