James Walter Curlee

July 4, 1924April 15, 2014

Walter Curlee, age 89, of Charlotte passed away April 15, 2014.

He was born in Ansonville, NC on July 4, 1924 to the late James Thomas and Viola Livingston Curlee. The courthouse burned down some years later and when the birth records were recreated, his was dated July 4th, but Mama Curlee said it was the 5th. “Back Home” he enjoyed playing baseball, basketball and tennis. Throughout his life, The Braves gave him many hours of entertainment and fuel for conversation.

His first job was with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Savannah, GA office. He left there to serve in the United States Army during World War II in the European Theatre from 1943 to 1946.

Mr. Curlee received a B.S. in Business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ‘49. He was in sales for many years, including Curlee Sales Co. which sold general merchandise throughout the Charlotte area. Several years were spent selling furniture and appliances at local stores. When asked if he was a good salesman, someone said “Walter could sell used firewood”.

He married Alice Ann Ayers in 1952 and moved to Charlotte in 1954. They had four children, Beverly Diane, James Jr. “Jay” (deceased), Mary Anne “Mimi”, and Elizabeth Ayers.

In the late 60s, he taught evening Adult Education classes through Central Piedmont Community College and later was the manager for the Bookstore at the Central Campus.

A faithful 50+ year member of First United Methodist Church, he served in many ways, including making sure the coffee was hot and cookies were handy for “Walter’s Sunday School Class”. He was part-time Director of Volunteer Ministries and Missions for a time. He had seen the troubles of the homeless around the uptown church and strove to find ways to help. Since some homeless were not comfortable in the large sanctuary, he arranged services by and for the homeless in an unused area of the Church. Members of the church helped by bringing in clothes and food. It was soon apparent that more needed to be done and the space at the church was limited. He found space at a nearby storage facility, expanded the program to 7 days a week. It eventually moved to its present 1210 North Tryon Street location and became the Uptown Day Shelter for the Homeless. He was the Executive Director of the Shelter for 12 years. He served on boards, committees, task forces; fundraised; and spoke at churches, civic organizations, colleges, and frequently on television and to the newspaper concerning the homeless situation in Charlotte. In 1989, Mr. Curlee received the Jefferson Award for Public Service to the Charlotte community. The Jefferson Awards are a prestigious recognition system honoring community and public service in America. They began in 1972 to create a Nobel Prize for public service. He was also a Charter Member of the Uptown Optimist Club, Charlotte. Preceded in death by his wife Alice Ann, son James Walter Curlee, Jr. “Jay”, brothers and sisters Frank, Ida, Haywood, Henry, Mary, and Nancy. He is survived by his three daughters; grandchildren Russell, Kelly, Sky, Thomas James “TJ”, Diaa, James; great-grandchildren Alex, Emily, Owen Walter, Dean, Vance; sister Viola Curlee Fogle and brother John Curlee.

The family will receive friends Friday, April 18, from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at Harry & Bryant Funeral Home. On Saturday, there will be a small reception at 1:00 p.m. followed by the funeral at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 501 N. Tryon Street, Charlotte, NC 28202.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church.


  • Visitation Friday, April 18, 2014
  • Visitation Saturday, April 19, 2014
  • Celebration of Life Saturday, April 19, 2014

James Walter Curlee

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Clara Gathings

April 20, 2014

Thinking of all of Walter's family with sympathy at this difficult time. I remember Aunt Viola. She was my Dad (Hugh Livingston's) sister. I was the youngest child of Hugh Livingston. He passed away in his 50's when I was 3 years old. We visited Aunt Viola in Ansonville when I was growing up. I really did not know Walter, but from his obit, he was a wonderful man. I am so glad I was able to read about his life. Walter was the same age as my brother Rufus. Rufus passed away last year. I know how great a loss you have when your loved ones pass away even though we know that they are in a better place. Love you all.

Carolyn Stroud

April 19, 2014

As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.

Debbie Gonzalez

April 19, 2014

My condolences to the family. Walter was a good friend and will be missed by all who knew him.

Joseph Smith

April 18, 2014

Dear Elizabeth and Family,

I remember seeing Walter Curlee receive the Jefferson Award for all of his tireless activism with the homeless here in Charlotte. That act of unselfish faith, hope, and charity inspired more people than you will ever know. What a blessing it is for the city of Charlotte to have such a man care about everyone and to also do something about it.

Carol and Doug Taylor

April 18, 2014

Our prayers and thoughts are with you. Viola Fogle

Mary Curlee Musick

April 17, 2014

Uncle Walter was a favorite relative. He was a sweet, caring, sharing, kind man and uncle. I have lovely memories of him, and was proud of his accomplishments, including 4 wonderful children (cousins!).

April 17, 2014

Sincere condolences to the Curlee family.
John 5: 29

Dave and Jinny Mitchell

April 17, 2014

Dear Mimi and Family,
We cherish our time with Walter Curlee, and will remember with love his legacy to our Church family and Community at large.
Dave and Jinny Mitchell