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Jean Michelle “Shelly” Curtis, 73, of Bristol, passed away peacefully at Goshen General Hospital on Friday, Mar. 8, 2019 at 11:43 pm.
Born in Roswell, N. M. on Oct. 11,1945, she had an Area 51 drivers’ license befitting her time and place of birth. She was beautiful, tough, quick-witted, and lived fearlessly and independently. She grew up in Elkhart, Indiana in a richly diverse neighborhood. She was a trailblazer for social justice, raising her children to believe in equality and adventure.
Shelly married twice, raising three children on a farm outside of Bristol. She pursued higher education at Butler University and IU South Bend. An inventive mother to Heather, Joshua, and Sara, she raised her children in a house full of books, building pillow forts and spinning stories inspired by Swiss Family Robinson.
When she worked for a RV company, she used the dealer swaps to take her family to Disney World and Niagara Falls, among other places. She once held a surprise Valentine’s Day dinner just for her children, with the good china and fancy food.
Shelly loved photography, capturing images of grandchildren, puppies, barn cats and flowers. A constant gardener and optimist, Shelly always had a new flower bed, consistently ordering new plants to “see if they would work here.” Even a surveyor’s stake she once plunged into the ground burst to life. Soon, the magnolia tree she planted in her front yard will burst into bloom like her optimism.
Shelly was a traveler and on-the-spur-of-the-moment road-tripper, marking her progress with pins on a map. Before having children, she explored the Great Smokey Mountains, Georgia, Tennessee, and much of the South, always fearless and enthusiastic. Her latest travels took her to the Grand Canyon, Old Tucson, and back to Roswell. She was also an armchair traveler, devouring mysteries and sweeping historic novels, often reading several books at once.
A member of Sierra Club, a regular contributor to the National Arbor Day Foundation, and lover of zoos, she continued her worldly education from The Great Courses series.
Shelly loved life, and found comfort in four paws, making a home over the last 45 years for a few Golden Retrievers, a Malamute-Husky mix, and many German Shepherds.
Shelly lived with cancer or in remission since 1982 never letting it define her.
She is survived by her brother, Christopher D. Taylor, her children Heather Keel (Bill Keel), Sara Curtis (Kris Robinson) and Joshua Curtis, and grandchildren Nicole Hoy and Anthony Quinn, and one great-grandchild, Mason Hoy, as well as Kate, her German Shepherd, her ever present companion.
Friends are encouraged to share stories of Shelly’s life as we pay tribute to her on Saturday, March 16, 2-4 pm at Billings Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Elkhart.