Roy Curless was born on February 11, 1930 in Scotia. He left this earth on February 2, 2023, just nine days shy of his 93rd birthday. He was a lifelong resident of Humboldt County. Roy was the middle child born to Guy and Viola Curless. Roy spent his childhood growing up in Bull Creek close to the Lewis family homestead, now known as Cueno Creek.

Roy graduated from Fortuna High School in 1948. His classmates continue to gather every summer for their annual class reunion. Roy was a four-sport athlete, playing football, basketball, baseball and track, but baseball was the sport that he loved the most. He was an outstanding first baseman, which earned him an athletic scholarship to Oregon State University. Roy’s baseball career was cut short when he was drafted into the United States Army during the Korean War. Dad felt fortunate to serve his time in the Army in France and Germany working as a code translator.

Upon his discharge, Roy returned to Humboldt County working in the logging industry and running a bulk fuel plant. In 1956, Roy married Laurada Mudgett. Together, they made their home in Fortuna for nearly 66 years until Laurada’s death last year. In 1963, Roy went to work for the County of Humboldt in the assessor’s office. He worked with the ranchers of this area to put over 250,000 acres into the Williamson Bill. Roy retired as chief appraiser in 1995. His 32 years in the assessor’s office, combined with the fact that his family has been in Humboldt County for six generations, allowed Roy the opportunity to establish long-term relationships with many people in this area.

Son John was born in 1961, followed by daughter Mary in 1965. Roy was the epitome of strength, honesty and loyalty. John and Mary are blessed to have been loved and raised by Roy and Laurada. They were the parents many people wished they had.

Roy approached life with a straightforward manner. There was no grey area with him. Things were pretty simple. He was guided in life by a strong moral compass. Good or bad, you always knew where you stood with Roy.

Humboldt County was very important to Roy. He served this community in many ways. He was a member and past president of the Fortuna Rotary Club, a member and past president of the Fortuna Chamber of Commerce and was honored as their Citizen of the Year in 1996. Roy was appointed to the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Board in 1991 and served as the Second District Commissioner for 20 years. He was a strong advocate for maritime commerce and economic development.

There were many things dad loved – his community, buck hunting with dear friends the Rice family and his buddy Bill Startare, he loved his friends and especially his family. The one thing dad also really loved and will likely be best remembered for is his involvement with the Fortuna Rodeo.

Dad joined the Fortuna Rodeo Association Board of Directors in 1958, serving as the President for over three decades. Roy’s family would like to thank the Rodeo Association for the many friendships and memories created over the years. He so enjoyed the camaraderie of the monthly meetings and how the event brought the community together during the third week of July. In 2011, Roy and Laurada were honored to be the Grand Marshall’s of the 90th Fortuna Rodeo. Dad received the honor a second time in 2021 as the Grand Marshall of the 100th Fortuna Rodeo. It is hard to imagine a Fortuna Rodeo without his physical presence there, but his spirit and love for the Rodeo will never die. Over the past year, Roy attempted to resign from the Rodeo Board – a big thank you to Shannon McWhorter and the rest of the Directors for not allowing it and for always keeping him up-to-date on what was happening. It truly gave him a purpose and a reason to keep going. Roy would likely tell his Rodeo Board colleagues, “put on a good rodeo and don’t mess it up.” Of all of the rodeo events, Dad loved bull riding the most and always rooted for the bull.

The family would also like to thank dear friend and neighbor Bill Anderson and long-time friend Johanna Rodoni for always taking time to stop by dad’s house for a visit. The list of friends dad leaves behind is too many to mention here, but if you were lucky to be Roy’s friend then you were fortunate indeed.

Roy was pre-deceased by his wife Laurada, his parents Guy and Viola Curless, his brother and his wife, Robert and Dorothy Curless, his sister and her husband, Elaine and Paul Cacci, Laurada’s parents, Paul and Henrietta Mudgett, sisters Ellie Palmer and Anne Turner and their husbands Darrel and Dusty, by niece, Cathy Cacci and nephews Ron and Ervin Dunn.

Roy is survived by his children John Curless and wife Valerie Hipkins, daughter Mary Curless Smith and her husband, Grant Smith, his much-loved grandchildren Joe Curless, Kate Curless and Shannon Smith. Roy is also survived by his nieces and nephews, Paul, Gwen, Tina, Marsha (John), Neil (Janelle), Sandra (Wally), Roberta (Bill), Marie and their children.

Special thanks to the staff at Sequoia Springs and to Hospice of Humboldt for making dad’s remaining time more comfortable. Roy touched so many people’s lives. If you have a fond memory of Roy, please take a moment to write it down. The family is planning a Celebration of Life this summer and would like to share these memories as part of the event.

If you are so inclined to make a donation in Roy’s honor, please consider the Fortuna Rodeo Association or Hospice of Humboldt.

Happy trails – forever in our hearts.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Roy Curless’s loved onesThe Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email