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John Curry: Waynesboro loses a piece of its heart, soul

curryA month ago, playing pickup basketball at the Waynesboro YMCA, I was matched up with a young 70-year-old, John Curry, who, to say the least, didn’t play his age.

I had a few inches on John, not to mention 28 less years on my legs, so I tried to post him up.

Bad idea. What I had on John in youth and springy legs, he made up for with ornineriness. First time I got a pass in the post, on the left block, I turned right to go off glass, but missed awkwardly courtesy a nice, ahem, shove to my lower back.

It was the last time I’d get to play basketball with John Curry, whose death on Sunday has shocked and saddened the Waynesboro community, for reasons too many to hope to completely detail.

If you didn’t see him at the Y playing basketball, he’d be at the Boys & Girls Club, building something. Or at the Wayne Theatre, again building something, or pestering people with money to give some of it to the good cause of restoring the downtown landmark.

Turns out he was really good at the raising money thing.

John was also a retired judge, and I can tell another good story on him from my dealings with him in that capacity. As the former ace cub reporter at The News Virginian back in the 1990s, I was covering a case that was to end up in John’s courtroom involving a group of teens that had been arrested for violating a curfew in a local parking lot hangout.

My pretrial coverage of the story ended up revealing that the kids hadn’t actually violated the curfew, with a higher-up in the police department conceding that point in one of my stories.

John, the guy I played basketball with at the Y, asked me to stop by the courthouse the week leading up to the trial for a quick talk about what would go on day of, and knowing him as I did socially, I still thought, Hey, it’s a judge, requesting my presence, better stop in.

The talk was quick. He offered me his robe.

“You want to go ahead and try this case for me? Seems like you’ve already delivered a verdict in the paper,” he said to me.

Point taken. My work was done. Now the case was his. That was John.

Then he offered me a grocery bag of fresh veggies from his backyard garden.

That was also John.

He was the first on and usually the last off a dance floor at local fundraising galas for the Y and the Rotary Club, quick with wit, given to passion on issues near and dear to his heart, doting on his wife, Theresa, and his family.

Those who had the fortune to have known John Curry are missing a piece of themselves with him now gone. It’s too often said about people that someone or the other has a zest for life, but it’s appropriate in talking about John that he had a zest for life, down to pushing young guys around on a basketball court at 70, when most have long since put the sneakers in the shed.

It’s a shame for his family and friends that he is no longer around to infect us with his enthusiasm for every day, and a great shame for Waynesboro that he isn’t here to continue to build up what needs built up, either literally with his carpentry skills or with his ability to sell Waynesboro in the form of the Wayne Theatre and other projects that will be his legacy for generations to come.

My next turnaround off the glass is for you, big guy.

– Column by Chris Graham


Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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