Curt Witt

Curt John Witt died Feb. 3, 2015 at Genesis Healthcare Crestwood in Milford, just a few days shy of his 90th birthday. There is no official obituary, but his life and passing deserve to be remembered.

As a friend of Curt’s for over 40 years, I have gathered the following information. This comes from a May 16, 1985 article by Judy Boyle in the Milford Cabinet: “Curt Witt was a child of the city, born in Brooklyn, raised in the Bronx. In his childhood he haunted the public library and listened to ‘Sunrise Serenade’ on his radio becoming enamored of classical music at an early age….Inspired by his high school art teacher, he started his career in commercial art as an artist’s helper, then was a cartoonist of the Pepsi and Pete cups. By 19 he was designing book jackets for Doubleday publishers. He lived in Greenwich Village in New York City in the ‘40s when it was Bohemian”.

For some time he lived in Greenwich, Conn. with his wife Rosa and their daughters, Monique and Alida. In the early 1950s he formed a company called Design House and designed LP record covers for Record Corporation of America, Remington, Plymouth and others. His proudest career accomplishment was as the designer of literature and materials for all the pavilions at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

After his divorce he yearned for a more peaceful way of life with time for reading, thinking, and writing. He found a job with an ad agency in Bedford, NH and moved to Milford. For a while he was the author of Notebook, an illustrated column of poetry and philosophy published weekly in the Cabinet. He started his own magazine on humanistic philosophy, Renewal. Mary Ackerman, a subscriber, wrote wondering about her delayed volumes. She had her own story, having previously been married to a jazz musician in Greenwich Village. Curt and Mary corresponded, a relationship developed and they married in 1973.

A reaction to a drug prescribed for a serious illness left Curt seriously impaired. He had to re-learn to walk and talk. Slowly he gained back those functions but his art work took on a different, less commercially accessible style.

He and Mary became well-known figures in Milford as Mary drove them around town.

Curt often gave away his abstract art pieces, which were inspired by classical music. He was happy whenever someone listened to him expound on his views of the world. Once I told him about a trip I was anticipating and he quoted Henry David Thoreau: “Beware of any undertaking requiring new clothes.” Another of his favorite quotes was “Take your time, eternity is forever.”

He and Mary lived at Crestwood since 2008. Mary was devoted to him until her death at age 87 on Dec. 28, 2012.

There will be a memorial service at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 20 Elm Street, Milford on Tuesday, March 17 at 11 a.m., followed by a potluck luncheon. All are invited and welcome to bring some of Curt’s art work or writings as we share in our memories and appreciation of Curt’s life.