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Kirby Center advocate Curtis Montz dies at 101

February 26. 2013 8:50AM

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KINGSTON — W. Curtis Montz, a local centenarian who was a stalwart supporter of the Kirby Center since its beginnings and a fixture for decades on downtown Wilkes-Barre’s retail scene, died on Sunday. He was 101.

Montz, of Kingston, was employed at Fowler, Dick and Walker — The Boston Store for more than 50 years, concluding his service there as vice president of sales, promotions and advertising before Al Boscov bought the South Main Street department store in 1980.

Montz continued working at Boscov’s in personnel and public relations.

“Curtis is an unbelievable guy. I met him when I bought the store in Wilkes-Barre. He was absolutely wonderful for us. He helped us with the transition,” Al Boscov said Monday in a phone interview from his office in Reading.

“When I conned him into giving his service to the Kirby, I didn’t expect him to go full-time there,” said Boscov, who spearheaded the effort to restore the former Paramount Theater on Public Square, which opened as the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in 1986.

In 1987, Montz was appointed interim executive director of the Kirby Center, a position he held for 13 months. He continued providing his services in other areas at the Kirby until 2010.

“My experience working with him at the Kirby Center was a privilege,” said Marilyn Santarelli, executive director. “He was the most dedicated, loyal and passionate person about theater and the arts at the Kirby Center. He was 99 when he left. … We have the Curtis Montz Film Series named in his honor.”

Describing Montz as gracious, dignified, talented and skilled, Santarelli said he booked all of the film series at the theater and was familiar with every Broadway play.

“He came to work every day in a suit and tie. He was a great influence on our team. He was our rock,” she said.

Jim Ferris, 78, of Kingston, met Montz through his friend, the late Chuck Robbins, who owned the former Chuck Robbins Sporting Goods in Wilkes-Barre, at a breakfast gathering about 25 years ago. They had been meeting for breakfasts as part of a group ever since.

Ferris described Montz as “a great Penn State fan,” an alumnus of the university and of Wyoming Seminary in Kingston who had the distinction of being the oldest alumnus to still attend reunions in recent years.

“As long as he was physically able, he would attend the (Penn State) games. And he would never take the elevator; he always walked to the seats,” Ferris said. . His office at the Kirby Center was upstairs. He always took the stairs there too. … He never liked to give in to anything

Clayton Karambelas, of Kingston, got to know Montz when Montz worked at the Boston Store and Karambelas and his family operated The Boston Candy Shoppe and Restaurant on Public Square.

“Curtis was a person who stayed active 100 years. It’s nice to see someone stay active all his life and live so long,” Karambelas said. “He will truly be a person that’s missed.”

Montz is survived by his wife of 63 years, Edythe Burrell Kolb Montz; daughters Kathryn K. Miller, of Indian Lake, and Burrell M. Cover, of Greenville, N.C.; son Harry W., of Kingston Township; eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service at the Forty Fort Meeting House will be announced at a later date. Calling hours will be from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hugh B. Hughes & Son Inc. Funeral Home in Forty Fort. See the obituary on Page 2A.


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