Date: April 22, 2009
About: Lee Lindsay Curtis - Class of 1960
Never Seeing the Obstacles
Lee Lindsay Curtis accepted the 12th annual Joe Bonansinga Award for Community Service with her characteristic grace Tuesday by turning the accolades back onto the Rotary Club and the community's many other volunteers for their contributions to Quincy.
The Rotary Club and United Way present the award as just one of the many ways they honor the man who became known as "Mr. Quincy." The United Way and past award recipients choose someone they believe best exemplifies the qualities of volunteer service that Bonansinga was known for.
"There are clear similarities" between Curtis and Bonansinga, said Harry Marcionetti, senior vice president of operations at Knapheide Manufacturing and president of the United Way board of directors. "Both exude passion for their community ... never seeing the obstacles."
Marcionetti, who presented the award, praised Curtis for her teaching career in special education and her continuing work with Chaddock, Habitat for Humanity and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
A mother of two and grandmother of four, she and her husband, Michael Curtis, own Great River Aviation. Lee Curtis is a licensed pilot and teaches at Quincy University. She holds a master's degree and continues to study at Western Illinois University.
After retiring from teaching, she focused her energies on the community, Marcionetti said. At Chaddock, she is involved with the students as well as serving on the board and foundation. She works alongside the students on houses for Habitat for Humanity, an organization she has served for 14 years as president.
In that time, Habitat has built more than a dozen homes for needy families in Quincy. For the past 10 years, Curtis has also volunteered with CASA, advocating for at-risk children involved in the courts.
Curtis also has supported the United Way's Unmet Needs Partnership with generous gifts for many years. She has served on numerous boards and committees and received honors for her contributions.
"Lee Lindsay Curtis sets the standard for excellence in our community," Marcionetti said. "Her impact on our community has been significant ... Her motivation to inspire others is a gift.
"You have given us the finest example of how to live and how to give back," he said.
Curtis thanked United Way and Rotary for the honor and spoke of the people who had inspired her to follow an example of giving -- an example that began with her parents and has continued through the generations of her family. That spirit also lives in the people Curtis calls friends and chooses to surround herself with.
It exists in the people who participate in Rotary and touch the community in so many ways.
"I'm amazed at all that you do," Curtis said. "It's a spirit of service before self."