- Associated Press - Saturday, February 13, 2021

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Woodrow Wilson was president of the United States and Lynn Frazier was governor of North Dakota when Ray Curtis of Minot was born.

Earlier this week the World War II veteran celebrated his 104th birthday at The Wellington in Minot.

Since his birth soon to be 104 years ago, there have been 19 U.S. presidents and 22 N.D. governors.

Originally from Columbus, Curtis was born Feb. 11, 1917, at the Portal hospital.

“I imagine it was the doctor’s house but they called it a hospital,” he said.

He moved with his family to Minot in 1927 and attended the first Lincoln Elementary School (the second Lincoln School was demolished after the 2011 flood). He then attended junior high and senior high at Minot High School, now MHS Central Campus, graduating in 1935.

“It was all one building – junior high and high school,” he said.

After high school graduation, he farmed with his dad and brother until enlisting in the U.S. Army in January 1941, the Minot Daily News reported.

“They started the draft in December so I thought I’d go in. I volunteered for one year,” he said. For his first two months in the military he worked as a clerk-typist in Minot.

He had only a month left before discharge when Pearl Harbor was attacked and the Army changed his plans. Curtis and his then girlfriend Ellen, originally from Columbus, married in Reno, Nevada. He was sent from San Francisco to Texas and his wife went to Minot to stay with his parents until he was discharged from the service in December 1945.

“I served in the states most of the time,” Curtis said, adding, “I was in the states about four years and in Germany about 10 months.”

After his discharge from the Army, he farmed the family farm at Columbus. He and Ellen raised five daughters: twins Judy Antrim and Julie Antrim, both of Laporte, Indiana, Connie Toffle of Morgantown, West Virginia, Teresa Glaspey of Columbus and Becky Gray of Alexandria, Minn.

Ray and Ellen retired in 1983 and moved to Minot. Ellen died Dec. 24, 2014.

His family also includes 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

Curtis keeps busy at The Wellington. He had been playing a game of pool before being interviewed. Following the interview he thought he’d probably play cards shortly after.

Sometimes he can be found leading the exercise class at The Wellington. He said he leads the exercise class when those who normally do it can’t be there.

Curtis attributes much of his longevity to being active.

“I exercise everyday. I’ve been physically active all my life,” he said.

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