- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - In the early 1980s, Betty Curry called it a career after 20 years as a registered nurse at Forrest General Hospital.

She hasn’t stopped since.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, Curry can be found at the desk at FGH’s west entrance waiting room, that is, when she isn’t doing a mail run. Wednesdays, she’s part of the kitchen crew preparing that day’s daily meal at Christian Services Inc. Sundays, she leads “The Joy Class” at Heritage United Methodist Church.

While some might marvel at her devotion, the Hattiesburg woman gracing her 10th decade considers such her hobby.

“At this age, God’s very good to me, He keeps me healthy, and I guess my hobby is volunteering for other people,” said Curry, who will turn 93 this year. “I don’t have another hobby, like sewing or cooking or this kind of stuff.

“This is my hobby.”

Penny Kochtitzky, who has known Curry for the past 12 years through Christian Services, said her friend came immediately to mind as one of those who give of themselves.

“She’s just someone to be admired, and I am just in awe of her,” said Kochtitzky, a retired teacher. “Every time I would see stories about people who needed to be recognized for what they do, the unsung heroes, I would say, ‘Betty needs to be one of those.’

“She would never, never, never nominate herself and never would she ask someone. She’s just not that type of person. So, I thought, I’m going to do that because she really deserves the notice. After all these years, to be so true to her core values. She’s got a full week, every week, and rarely misses. She’s rarely sick. She’s just a bundle of energy.”

Curry, a Winona native, moved from Lexington, Kentucky, to Hattiesburg in 1961 with her three children, ages 11, 9 and 6, following the death of her husband.

“Joe Wilson was the best (husband) that anybody could have ever had,” she said. “I was 36 years old when I was a widow.”

Her brother, Dr. C.L. “Dell” Austin, had established his practice in Hattiesburg, and suggested that his sister move to town so he could help her if her children became ill.

“He said, ‘I’ll take care of your children,’” Curry said. “And I told him right off that I could take care of my own children.

“He said, ‘I didn’t say I was going to take your children. I have children. I was saying I would help you medically if they got sick.’ So, that was the reason I moved to Hattiesburg.”

Her brother also introduced her to Forrest General, and she soon started work at what was then a 90-bed facility.

She bought her neat, brick, corner home that year, and has lived there the past 44 years.

“I moved there so my kids could establish themselves and so my kids could go to school in an area where I could keep my eye on them. They all went (nearby) or downtown. They were all just right here together.”

The eldest, Carole Jean Wilson, followed in her mother’s footsteps and is a registered nurse in Little Rock, Arkansas. Curry’s eldest son, David Brooks Wilson, is a United Methodist minister in Woodville.

Her youngest, Robert “Duck” Austin Wilson, worked afield searching for oil and gas before passing away at the age of 44 from a rare disease that hardened his lungs.

Curry remarried, meeting A.E. Curry about 7-1/2 years after moving to Hattiesburg.

“I lucked up on somebody great in Hattiesburg,” she said. “He worked at Hercules, and I didn’t even know what Hercules was. I thought they made overalls.

“I grew up in north Mississippi and the farmers wore Hercules overalls. So, when I came here and I heard ‘Hercules,’ I didn’t know what Hercules was.”

A.E. Curry passed away in 1999.

“When you’ve been here as long as I have, there’s going to be some rough times,” Betty Curry said. “It’s been wonderful in many places. Much more wonderful memories than rough ones. Much more.”

And while Curry not only continues to make memories, she unknowingly inspires those around her.

“I’m talking about her zest for life,” said Catherine Jorns, director of ministry development at Christian Services. “I’ve talked with her son, and he said she walked three miles a day when he was growing up and that he could not remember a time when she did not go walking.

“I asked her about it one day, and she said, ‘Now, I’m just excited to walk to the car.’”

Curry still takes her strolls, eats twice a day and religiously tends to her “hobby.”

“She’s just this little dynamo,” Kochtitzky said of the 5-foot-3 Curry. “She is truly amazing, just an amazing person.”

Curry says that her life at 92 remains quite full.

“Our life started over when we moved to Hattiesburg, and it was a good life,” she said. “It’s been a very good life.”

___

Information from: The Hattiesburg American, https://www.hattiesburgamerican.com


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