The Rev. H.C. Curry was the kind of man who never met a stranger and who left you feeling better after you had talked to him, according to his family and friends.
Curry, 79, who died Oct. 13 at his Pine Bluff home, was the longtime pastor of St. Peter’s Rock Missionary Baptist Church, where he served for 26 years until his retirement in 2009, and at Wheeler Chapel Church for 27 years before that.
Curry’s daughter, Janet Taylor, almost didn’t know where to begin when asked how she would describe her father.
“He was just a very special person,” Taylor said Monday. “He was amazing. He treated everyone the same. If you talked to anyone in town from the street to the judge’s office they knew him. He would give you his last dollar. I can’t tell you how many people have told me ‘I was at the lowest point in my life and your father gave me words of encouragement and that was a turning point.’ He had a gift for that. He served as a prison chaplain and was good at it. He looked at them non-judgmentally.”
Taylor said that her father was the ultimate family man.
“I was his spoiled brat daughter,” Taylor laughed as she recounted being the only child of H.C. and Myrtle Curry. “I think the only thing he loved more than me is my mom and my kids. He doted on his grandkids. He would come and pick up our paper in the morning and I joked with him that it only cost 50 cents. He’d say ‘I know, but it’s more fun to get yours so I can have an excuse to come in for a visit.’”
“He is a very rare person in that whenever you talked to him you left feeling better, and this is coming from his daughter,” Taylor said with a chuckle. “I won the lottery when I got my parents. People just loved him. Something else that I really respected about him is that he was never a person who coveted money. It was so hard to get Christmas presents for him because he would always say ‘I don’t need anything.’ Even if I got him a painting signed by the artist he would just look at it and say ‘that’s nice.’”
When asked if there were other family members who would like to speak, Taylor said that her children were with her and briefly spoke to them.
“My son Jeffrey just wants to let it be known that my father will always be Paw Paw to him,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that her father was born in Rosston near Prescott.
“When my father was 12 he gave his first sermon at a church he built in the yard,” Taylor said. “He got his brothers and sister to be his congregation. There was a peddler standing outside listening to him and when he finished, the peddler said my father was going to grow up to be a great preacher and gave him a watermelon.”
Curry’s son-in-law, Lou Taylor, looked up to his wife’s father.
“I have been his son-in-law for 26 years,” Taylor said. “He is one of my greatest inspirations. He was a minister for over 50 years. One of the reasons I think he was so great is that he truly lived it. I would say he was a minister’s minister. There isn’t a minister in this town that didn’t have a visit with him at some point. Ministers are people too and sometimes need someone to talk to. He was a big bear of a man who loved everybody. You left him feeling better than you did before.”
Taylor said that Curry was a friend to all.
“He never met a stranger,” Taylor said. “Once you were his friend you were his friend for life no matter what.”
“He would always end his sermons by asking the Lord to give each of us a smooth transition and the Lord gave it to him,” Taylor said of his father-in-law’s passing. “He was at home when he passed. It was like somebody turned out a light and that was it. Peaceful. He gave of himself to the very end.”
Ward 2 Alderman Charles Boyd, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church, called Curry a mentor.
“Reverend Curry has been to me my Paul,” Boyd said. “He’s been a mentor of mine down through the years. I felt honored that he returned to First Baptist after he retired from St. Peter’s. He was a great leader, man, mentor and inspiration.”
Boyd said that he has known Curry for 25 years.
“He was a great, warm man,” Boyd said. “He had a special smile that attracted you to him. Young people became attached to him. He was a humble yet powerful man.”
Curry is survived by his wife Myrtle Curry; daughter Janet Taylor; son-in-law Lou Taylor, grandchildren Christa Taylor, Julia Taylor, Christopher Taylor, Jeffrey Taylor, and Catherine Taylor; brothers Roy Curry and Willie Curry and sister Christine Hackett.
According to a spokesman at Christian Way Funeral Home, visitation will be held at the funeral home from noon to 3 p.m. Wednesday followed by a visitation from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at First Missionary Baptist Church, 4500 Faucett Road. The funeral service will be Thursday at noon at the church.