October 2021 Newsletter

The latest in our series…

The People of the Park:

Fran and Michele Curtis


Dale Dauten

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. Beautiful people do not just happen.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross



We have plenty of beautiful people at The Resort and we got to meet two of them for this issue: Fran and Michele Curtis. Fran (short for Francis) was a Navy Seal and Michele grew up in California, working the agricultural fields in the summers as a teen and eventually following her father’s footsteps by working in Corrections, mostly as a parole officer. Those are the sort of experiences that get a person accustomed to encountering adversity.

Speaking of adversity, while I’m sure the Curtises wouldn’t want us to dwell on physical challenges, let’s do a quick review for context…

Fran retired in 2012 and one week later learned he had throat cancer. Surgery saved his life, but couldn’t save his larynx and he now speaks with an electrolarynx, a small cylinder that he holds to his throat when speaking. (The surgery itself sounds miraculous – they took skin from his arm to create a new section of esophagus.) Then, over the last two years, he’s taken on and beaten four different cancers. The last one, lung cancer, was discovered only because he’d gotten Valley Fever. Along the way, he dealt with the effects of a broken back left over from falling out of a helicopter in his military days.

As for Michele, she had a fluke accident, climbing out of a hot tub, which left her with nerve damage in a foot and unable to walk without a kneeling-walker.

That’s a lot, but Fran and Michele have figured out how to laugh at adversity – literally laugh at it. In fact, two of the great stories they laugh about is when the two first met and then when Fran explains how he knew he was marrying the right woman…


For Fran, who’d had two failed marriages, each wife having left him when he was serving overseas, you’d understand him being a tad skeptical about the institution of marriage. And Michele, who met Fran when she was single again after a first marriage, had to have some doubts of her own. But here’s how they describe how they met and how they recall their marvelously disastrous wedding day:


FRAN: My buddy was a bass player and his band was playing at a bar, so a group of us decided to go hear him play. They all ended up bailing on me but I went anyway. As I was talking to the couple next to me, and I notice the girl kept getting up and going outside. I thought she must really need to smoke.

MICHELE: That was a girlfriend of mine who was going outside to call me and call me and tell me to get over there because there was this guy I had to meet.

FRAN: And eventually Michele came to the bar. I knew she was a good one when she didn’t walk out on me after I threw a guy through a window… There were these two brothers at a table next to us who were arguing and yelling and it turned into a fight and one of the brothers fell into Michele. So I grabbed him off her and threw him through a window. I offered to pay for the window but the bartender told me the two brothers were always causing trouble and he was glad to be rid of them. Later, I had a first dance with Michele and I thought, “Dude, you’re in trouble now.”

In honor of their meeting, Fran and Michele have this sign in their living room:


FRAN: I knew I was marrying the right woman when our wedding day was a friggin’ disaster and she laughed about it.

MICHELE: Just about everything went wrong. The wedding had a cowboy theme and I was wearing an 1880’s riding outfit. But the shop where I was getting my dress burned down. Then the place with my shoes got robbed. My hat was lost by UPS and the replacement showed up 15 minutes before the service. The guy delivering the wedding cake got in an accident and the cake got damaged. When Fran went to pick up his boots, the shop was closed – there’d been a death in the family. And the band got lost.

FRAN: I went to check on her, thinking she’d be crying, but she and her girlfriends were drinking champagne and laughing. That’s when I knew.

(And, as wedding photo below shows, they still looked terrific)


As we touched on earlier, both Fran and Michele had long, challenging careers. We don’t have space to go into them in detail, but we have to pass along the story of Fran as a Navy Seal.

It wasn’t as if he set out to be a military hero. No, Fran finished school – it was vo-tech high school where he focused on computer programming – and got a job offer from American Airlines. But this was during the dark days of the Vietnam War and he got drafted before he could start. He says of that time, “I didn’t know any Congressmen, so I was headed for Vietnam. So I went and signed up for the Navy, where I was supposed to be a computer programmer. In boot camp, a guy come in looking like John Wayne and reads three names. One of the names was Francis Curtis. And then he asks if we want to be Navy Seals. All my relatives who’d been in the service told me ‘Do not volunteer,’ but I said a stupid thing: ‘Er… Er… What the hell?’” That decision led to testing, which Fran passed, which led to the Seal training.

Despite nearly four years in the Navy, Fran says he spent just three days on ships. Instead, as a Seal, he was sent on secret missions to where Vietnam meets Cambodia and Laos, spending much of his time looking for “underwater bridges.” What? Underwater bridges? He explained that in order to avoid American reconnaissance flights and bombings, the Vietnamese built the bridges a couple of two or three feet beneath the water level. His days in Southeast Asia ended when Fran got shot, spent a month in the hospital, and despite insisting that he wanted to return to the war, got assigned to Washington and put to work on White House security. Sadly, this wasn’t the glamorous work of being at White House events; rather, Fran was undercover, out among the crowds outside.


After his time as a Seal, Fran moved to California, graduated from San Jose State in Political Science, got accepted to Rutgers Law School, but then his first daughter was born, and that led to a decision to forego law school and open a landscaping business and to serve in the Navy Reserve. But there was something that called to him in military service and he took a job with the Army and travelled back and forth to South America on secret missions.

It was during that time, in 1999, that he and Michele married. Then, after Fran re-retired from the military in 2001, he got a Master’s degree in teaching and started working with at-risk kids, work he found gratifying right up to his full retirement in 2012.

It was during those teaching years that Fran bought a motorcycle, an Indian, and he and Michele started an American Legion Riders group. By the time they left, the group had grown to over a thousand members. One of the group’s volunteer activities, escorting the remains of fallen soldiers to a cemetery, had been taken up by motorcycle groups all over the country.


Retirement meant that the Curtises hit the road, becoming full-time RVers. Then, in 2013, they stayed at The Resort to be near Fran’s children, who’d moved to Gilbert. The Curtises came back, and came back, and in 2019 bought a park model. That allowed Fran a place to recover from his cancers. He says of that time,

“You hear ‘cancer’ and you think, ‘kiss of death.’ And it is, if you let it. Or you can fight. I believe you keep going till the good Lord calls your number. Till then, you keep laughing.”

And, in Fran’s case, you keep busy. He took up reenactments years ago, working with a troupe in South Dakota that acted out robbing a train. “For six years, every Thursday evening I died,” he recalled. “I got shot robbing the train. I was like a little kid who got to play cowboys and sheriffs.” And he’s still playing cowboy, now at the Goldfield Mine in the Superstition Mountains, as shown in the photo below.


Given what we learned about Fran and Michele, it wasn’t surprising when Fran responded to our question about the best advice he’d ever gotten by saying this:

No matter how bad things get,

Stay positive,

Keep your sense of humor,

And don’t let your problems defeat you.


Hello everyone, soon it will be time for residents to be returning to the Park. Margie and I have a lot of fun things planned for this season. As you know, we need volunteers for this season to be successful. If you have volunteered in the past or if you are interested in volunteering this year, we are having a volunteer meeting on Monday, November 1st at 10 AM in the Ballroom. Please join us to see what it is all about. There will be coffee and donuts.

See everyone soon and safe travels.

Teresa and Margie



8:30 AM – 4 PM

After that open Monday thru Friday

8:30 AM – 4 PM

Stop by and say hello and see what is going on!!!!




DINNER @ 5:30 PM


DINNER/DANCE COMBO – $$ To be determined

                        DANCE $10 EACH


Dinner tickets need to be purchased by Tuesday noon before the event



9 AM – 12 PM

Sign up for a table in the Activities Office after October 15th

Breakfast Burritos will also be for sale

La Mesita Benefit

Sunday, December 5th, 6 PM

Sponsored by “The Resort Crafty Ladies”

Please bring canned goods or cash donation for admission

Baked Goods, Crafts and Raffle Tickets will be for sale

Raffle Tickets are $1.00 each or 6/$5.00

Raffle drawing will be held at 7 PM

See a Crafty Lady to purchase.

Crafty Ladies gather in the Party Room

 1-3 pm Monday and Friday

Please feel free to join us!!!


If you know someone in the park you’d like to learn more about for one of our People of the Park profiles, please let us know.

Or, if you have photos you’ll like to share in upcoming newsletters, please send them.

Dale Dauten


Email: ddauten@gmail.com

Text: 480-297-6244