William 'Bill' Curry
Army & Air Force Veteran
William Curry was born in Buffalo, NY, on April 1, 1923, and raised in Binghampton, NY. He always joked he was an April fools baby. He was the oldest of six kids raised by Elijah, who died at 105 years old (salesman), and Mabel Curry (maid), who passed away at that age. William was extremely proud of his mother and would often share that she taught him the importance of showing respect and kindness to everyone, often stating, “it doesn’t matter if they are the maid, janitor or the president, you should give the same respect to everyone regardless of their profession.”
He joined the Army at 18 at the start of WWII. He was excited to receive three meals a day and a bed to sleep on; the $30 a month salary was a bonus. He was placed in infantry which surprised him because he had never shot a rifle before joining the military, never the less he got a bulls-eye on his first try. After training, he went to North Africa for special training and received a bayonet. From there, he was sent to Northern Italy, where he was injured during the invasion. At this time, the military was segregated, and he was the only African American in his unit assigned because of his skill.
When the war ended, William decided to leave the Army and work at the New York City Post Office. After working there for a couple of years, he decided to rejoin the military due to a new branch opening, the Air Force. This appealed to Bill because it was supposed to be better for Blacks and didn’t have the history of segregation that the Army had. He enlisted in the Air Force and served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars as a civil engineer as part of the RED HORSE team (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer) where he was a part of the 38th parallel in Korea. Bill was responsible for building military shelters and bases. During the Vietnam war, he received a special assignment in Crete with the 6931 Security group as a civil engineer.
After serving for 26 years, Bill retired from the military as an E-7 in 1974. He met his wife, Barbara Curry at McCallan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California. They later married in Reno, Nevada, and had one daughter Bayo Curry (Winchell). Throughout his military career, Bill Curry made it his mission to advocate and help others in any way that he could, taking special interest in equality for Blacks serving in the military.
After retiring from the military, Bill Curry enrolled in classes at the University Of Nevada Reno and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education. He worked for WARC as an adult special education teacher. Bill would share, “the best part of working with these kids was helping them and in doing that, I was also helping myself.” He retired from WARC after 27 years at age 82 and was a member of SGI Buddhist in Reno, NV. After retiring, Bill stayed very active, continuing to work out at his favorite gym, 24 Hour Fitness, where he established great relationships with several members of the community. He often supplemented his gym workout with daily home exercises that involved weight lifting and cycling.
As a young child, Bill fell in love with reading and made sure every day he read his newspaper and a book of choice. During retirement, he never stopped participating in this activity that brought him so much joy. Throughout his life, he brought joy to so many people locally and nationally, participating in outreach efforts that highlighted the inequities and disparities for people of color and helping with veteran-focused outreach as an official ambassador for the Paramount Veterans Network. Most recently, he participated in Paramount VetNet’s ‘Coffee With Vets’ with actor Stephen Hill, star of Magnum PI, earlier this year. It was important to him to find different ways to help people in any way that he could and never forgot to remind people that “you’ve got to keep moving.”
Bill Curry is survived by Ida Curry (sister in law), nephews Ken Alexander and Ron Harnden, James Alexander (husband) Jacque (wife) Alex Wise-Bey and Toya (wife) and son Alex Wise-Bey and Thomas Wise-Bey and Rhonda (wife) and nieces Shaynessye Curry, Bernay Wise-Bey and Esther Alexander and great nephew Wesley and Mindy Alexander and their three children and niece Jasmine Alexander and her two children. His wife Barbara Curry and daughter Dr. Bayo Curry-Winchell and James Winchell (husband) and their two children Jordan and Jaylin Winchell.
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