MALTA- Jim J. “Doc” Curtis 76, passed away March 21, 2019 at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls, of natural causes. The family will receive friends on March 28, 2019 at Kirkwood Memorial Chapel at 7:00 PM. Memorial service will be March 29, 2019 at Malta Lutheran Church at 11:00 AM. Interment with Military Honors will be at The Curtis place in Landusky following the luncheon.

Condolences for the family may be left at

Preceded in death by Jesus of Nazareth and Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, Dr. Jim “Kicker” Curtis died suddenly of a heart attack on Thursday, 21 March 2019. Some know him as Jim, while others shout out Kicker, Doc, Dad(dy), Grandpa, Poppa Doc and, among a select few, dirty rotten S.O.B.

Born John James Curtis on 7 February 1943 to John Lorenzo and Grace Caroline Pearce Curtis in Great Falls, Montana, Jim spent his early days kicking every which way and, thus, earned his lifelong moniker, Kicker, granted by his older, adoring sister Barbara Ann. Much to his entire Griz family’s disappointment, Kicker became a Bobcat (Montana State University) and, causing his Husky daughter further disappointment, completed his degree in veterinary medicine at Wazzu (Washington State University) in 1967. Post-degree, Kicker was gallantly drafted into the Army as Captain Curtis, and enjoyed the barrack amenities at several stateside stops before launching on his international adventure to South Korea (8th Army-Korea), where he served as veterinarian to the sentry dog units and met the greatest love of his life, military brat Gaelen Elizabeth Schell. Kicker easily lured Gaelen to the wide open spaces of central and, later, eastern Montana. The hope-filled couple married in 1970 and moved to Malta to establish the Phillips County Veterinary Clinic and his title as “Doc,” and also to wrangle cattle, sheep, horses, haying equipment, each other and three children, Rieder William Curtis, David Lorenzo Curtis, and Katherine Jean Curtis.

At his heart, Kicker was a renaissance cowboy, captivated by history, art, genealogy, geology, anthropology, sociology, theology, music, poetry and the stars while maintaining expertise in biology and animal science, and proficiency in mending harness. Consequently, he could, and did, talk with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Of further consequence, Kicker made lifelong and dear friends at each twist and turn on his journey. Kicker devoted himself to many community organizations and events. While much of the early years were focused on the Stockman Bar and the Milk River Wagon Train, the balance eventually tipped in favor of the Montana Veterinary Association (Past President), Freemasons (Past Worshipful Master), York Rite, Algeria Shrine (Past Potentate), Order of the Eastern Star (Past Worthy Patron), Malta Lutheran Church, his recovery (1989), and his family.

Kicker is survived by his wise sister Barbara, his courageous wife Gaelen, his competent to semi-competent children Rieder, David, and Katherine “Katie,” his Landusky-loving grandchildren Sydian and Rowan (Rieder and Karen), Daphne (David and Penelope), Jonah, Lee, Vida, Daniyah and Deayjah (Katherine and Aaron), and his long-loved nieces and nephews Jean, Karen, Keith, and Stephen (Barbara and Larry). What also lives on from our Kicker, our Doc, our Dad, our friend, and our partner: his love and compassion, his jokes and wit, his work and wrecks, and the genuine joy and hope that gleamed from his beautiful brown eyes. A river of tears wider than the Missouri follows his unexpected death, and is borne of the boundless love for you and me that he held in his heart.

Masonic rites, the retiring of his Shrine Fez, and your memories will be shared at 7 p.m. on Thursday, 28 March at Kirkwood Funeral Home. Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, 29 March at the Malta Lutheran Church with luncheon served. Burial rites will follow on the Curtis family property in Landusky. All are welcome. Condolences for the family may be left at

In lieu of flowers, please send your jewels and cash dollars in memory of Algeria Shrine Past Potentate John James Curtis to the Shriners Hospitals for Children by mail at Attn: Office of Development, 2900 N. Rocky Point Dr, Tampa, FL 33607, or online at

Although we do not have a last request from Doc, or Jim, or Kicker, or whatever name you might know him by, we believe he would enjoy one everlasting guffaw: So, in his honor, please attempt to eat a banana. Because once you peel the banana and throw out the bone, well, the joke is on you and his love is in your laugh.

Guest Book

From: Sharon A Kindle

Doc's family,
I am very sorry to hear of Doc's sudden passing, he will be greatly missed by all.

From: Shirley Siefert

Doc Curtis was one of the best veterinarians in the area. He will be missed. I loved his sense of humor and his compassion. We helped each other many times over the 40 years I worked at Glasgow Veterinary Clinic. His memory makes me smile.

From: Lexie Haynes

My condolences to Doc's family and friends. Doc was definitely one of a kind. His ability to draw you in with his stories and put an exclamation on it with his laugh. I so enjoyed working with and for him over the years. His big personality will be so missed.

From: Barb Peterson

Doc sure was one of a kind. He was a great vet, caring for his animals and humans alike.

From: Jack & Andie Billingsley

Our thoughts and prayers are with your family. We have many good memories of Doc, he was such a colorful character. We enjoyed his humor and stories. Northeast Montana has lost a good man.

From: Sue Kaluza

Sorry for your loss. He will be missed by many in our community. I always admired his knowledge about the history of Phillips County. God bless all of you.
Bob & Sue Kaluza


So sorry to hear of Kicker's passing. Loved his humor and the stories he told. We will miss him.

From: Lin Caballero

A wonderful man with a contagious laugh and a very big and caring heart!

From: Vickie Rauser

Very sorry to learn of Doc's sudden passing; he was such a valuable Mason, Star, and community member. Holding family and friends in prayer and sympathy.

From: Olive Chapter #10

Wishing you PEACE to bring you comfort, COURAGE to face the days ahead, and LOVING memories to hold forever in your heart. In deepest Sympathy.
In Star Love,
Members and Officers of Olive Chapter #10

From: Deborah S Yarborough

Dr. Curtis was a great person and veterinarian, I always enjoyed his wit and tall tales(maybe not tall maybe real!).
He will be missed.

From: Tony & Marlene Machado

With heavy hearts we send our deepest sympathies to Kicker's family. What a great man in many respects. Tony has many many stories of his time spent in Malta. We are very grateful we took the long road home last summer and had a great visit and a bunch of laughs with him. He does still owe me a drink. I guess i will have to collect that down the road. Sorry we can't come for the service, as luck would have it Tony is shipping yearlings that day.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all the family.

From: Joyce Kaplan

A man who loved his job, his animals, and the people he came into contact with. He was a joy to work with and always gave you the best care. I am looking forward to seeing him with Jesus.

From: Toby Sorensen and Robin Cadby Sorensen

We were so sorry to learn of Kicker's death. We had many fun times with him and Gaelen at Shriner events.
We send our condolences. He will be missed. Gaelen, we hope you are doing well. If they ever establish a "Hall of Fame for Great Guys," Kicker would be the first one in the Hall.

From: Anne & David Boothe

Docs obit was such a joy to read, obviously he lives on in his children. May God bless you all and bring you comfort and peace.

From: Lucky and Tammy

Tears come to my eyes from the laughter he gave us from the sadness of the passing of kicker

From: Doc and Joyce Kane

We just are stunned at Kicker’s passing. We realize we are all getting older when our friends starting leaving us here without them. The memories shared through the years of Verterinarian Conferences— the dances, laughs, trouble oh, yes but a million laughs. We send our love and prayers to you all!

From: Laurel Enyeart

God Speed Doc.

From: John k curtis

What a loss of a fine fellow of singular character. His voice and laughter echo through the memories of our sincere condolences

From: Lana M Fortin

There is only one of each of us..Doc will be missed.

From: Colleen Barnard

I am sorry for your loss of one of the most interesting men Phillips County ever had.
Doc Curtis would make many trips by my house every summer with his beloved team, putting up hay and then taking it to his clinic. It was great fun to watch him keep all the wagons rolling and the old machinery running.
He was the veterinarian we had work the ranch cattle. I will always remember his big booming voice hollering for more cattle as we pushed them to his chute at the end of the alley. He would bellow, "A hundred an hour !"
When it was time to put our old ranch dog, Buster to sleep Doc came to Saco to do it for us. It was a very sad day but he made it easier for all of us.
Rest in peace, Doc and thank you for all you did for everyone in not only Phillips County but Valley County too.

From: Esther Ruud

My sincere sympathy to each of Doc's family.

From: Dave Reinhardt

We have lost another teamster

From: Don Musil

So sorry to have just learned of Doc’s passing. He was a treat to work for years ago! I will miss his annual Christmas epistle. My sincere condolences to Gaelen and the kids.

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