May 19, 1944-March 8, 2014
PLATTSBURGH — Louis F. Currier, retired Major in the United States Air Force and former English teacher at Seton Catholic Central High School in Plattsburgh, died on Saturday evening, March 8, 2014, at CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh. He was 69. A devoted father and brother, courageous pilot, formidable English teacher and fiercely loyal friend, Mr. Currier, known to friends and family as Lou, had a life as rich and layered as any character from his beloved novels.
Born May 19, 1944, in Newport, Vt., the last born of four brothers to Joseph Albert Currier and Maria (Boulanger) Currier, his childhood included a strong focus on family, schooling, Catholicism, and a hardy mix of upstate Vermont and French Canadian values. He attended St. Gabriel Elementary in St. Johnsbury, Vt. Dedication to the church led to study at Seminaire de La Salette in Enfield, N.H., where he debated joining the priesthood. He enrolled instead at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, N.H., and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1965.
Looking to put his love of the English language to good use, and stirred by 1960s idealism, he joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Turkey to teach. Various conditions, especially the treatment of women in the community where he served, led to disillusionment, and he resigned and returned home to teach high school English at Rice Memorial High in Burlington, Vt. In 1967, his pendulum swung to the military and he followed in all three of his brothers’ footsteps by joining the United States Air Force. He received pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Ariz., and graduated an officer in 1969.
Ret. Major Currier’s 20-year career with the Air Force spanned multiple countries and a remarkable array of duties, earning him the Distinguished Flying Cross and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, among many decorations. In 1970, he piloted OV-10 aircraft with the Rustics, a group of French-bilingual Air Force fighter pilots based in Vietnam who fought a secret offensive in Cambodia; he was Rustic 09. In 1975, his French fluency helped lead to an appointment as an air attach^ in Paris, France, where he moved with his wife and baby daughter, Joanna, and where his second daughter, Katherine, was born. In 1978, he became a KC-135 tanker pilot, instructor pilot and, later, CO of the SAC Command Post at Plattsburgh Air Force Base, a move that brought him to within view of his home state of Vermont. Aside from a short but pleasant transfer to Loring Air Force Base in northern Maine at the end of his military career, Plattsburgh is where he remained for the rest of his life.
After retirement from the Air Force in 1987, Major Currier once again became “Mr. Currier,” high school English teacher, first on staff at St. John’s Academy and then, after the merger between St. John’s and Mount Assumption Institute in 1989, Seton Catholic Central. There he taught mainly seniors and led the new school’s inaugural AP English program. Years in the military had only intensified his dedication to discipline and academic rigor, and he made a daunting impression on his students who, if they rose to his many challenges, often claim he helped inspire them to new heights in high school, college, and beyond.
It’s no wonder that, outside of work, his loves were simple – gardening (including a lifelong quest for the perfect tomato), fishing, bonsai, the occasional game of pool, reading fiction, writing letters, and above all being a devoted father to his two daughters, Joanna and Kate, who he raised as a single father. He will be buried this summer at Arlington National Cemetery, about which he modestly said, “Though I may not be worthy to lie in rest with so many heroes, I like the company.”
He is survived by his daughter, Joanna (Currier) Della Penna; son-in-law, Michael Della Penna; and grandson, Leo Della Penna; daughter, Katherine Currier; brothers, Joseph Currier, Roger Currier, and Robert Currier; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Calling hours will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 20, at the R.W. Walker Funeral Home, 69 Court Street, Plattsburgh. A funeral memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 21, at St. John’s Church in Plattsburgh. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to St. Joseph’s Indian School, www.stjo.org, or Covenant House, www.covenanthouse.org.
Online condolences may be made to the family by visiting www.rwwalkerfh.com