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Thursday, December 6, 2012
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Lamar Louise Curry

Lamar Louise Curry, a lifelong educator, philanthropist and Miami/Dade County Pioneer, died, eight days shy of her 106th birthday, at her Coral Gables home on Dec. 3, 2012. An only child and the daughter of Alfred Bates Curry and Jane Stobo Depass Curry, she was born in Key West on Dec. 11, 1906. Her family moved to Miami in 1916 where her father was acquiring and managing his personal real estate holdings. Her mother set an example for young Lamar Louise to become involved in the community and contribute. She assisted the city of Miami in acquiring the 62 acres to build Bayfront Park before the 1926 hurricane. To honor and recognize her mother, Miss Curry responded to pioneer television news commentator Ralph Renick's request to fund and maintain a flower garden in the southwest comer of the park. A bronze plaque near the Challenger monument recognizes this effort.

Miss Curry's maternal grandfather, Dr. James P. DePass, moved from South Carolina to Florida immediately after the Civil War, and was president of the college that evolved into the University of Florida, when it was located in Lake City, Fla. in the late 1800s. Dr. DePass is also credited with assisting in the founding of The Florida Methodist Children's House in Enterprise, Fla.

Being from a family of devout Methodists, Miss Curry graduated with a bachelors degree, magna cum laude, from Southern College, (now Florida Southern) in Lakeland, Fla., in 1927 after graduating from Miami High School in 1923. Her first teaching job was at Andrew Jackson Junior High School in the beginning of the school year, 1927. In 1930, Dr. LT. Pearson, then-superintendent of the Dade County School System wrote that he needed a strong disciplinarian at Miami High School, and he assigned Lamar Louise Curry to Miami High. She remained there, teaching American History, until her retirement in 1962, when she elected to retire to assist her aging mother. During her tenure at Miami High, Miss Curry taught students whose names became known for excellence in their careers, notably Senator Bob Graham, the former governor of Florida and U.S. Senator; Robert Traurig, founding partner of Greenberg Traurig, and internationally recognized law firm, and actor Dezi Arnez. Having never married and having no immediate family, Miss Curry referred to her 5,000-6,000 former students as her extended family.

Lamar Louise Curry received many awards over the years for her service to others and for her quiet philanthropy. Always a generous supporter of The College of the Ozarks, she was presented the college's Outstanding Educator Award in 1996 by First Lady Barbara Bush. She is a Board Member Emeritus of The College of The Ozarks, from which she has received an honorary doctorate degree. In 2001, the Dade County School Board named in her honor a middle school, The Lamar Louise Curry Middle School. She maintained until her death memberships in The First Methodist Church of Coral Gables, The Coral Gables Garden Club, The Dade County Historical Association, The University of Miami Women's Guild, The Miami Pioneers (founding families of Miami), and Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

Services for Miss Curry will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7 at the First Methodist Church of Coral Gables. Interment will follow at Woodlawn Cemetery, where her father purchased the first grave site sold in 1916.

Information regarding memorial donations is available by contacting Audrey Ross at aross@miamirealestate.com or calling 305-960-2575.