It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Curtis Ray Hillman II on May 19, 2023.

Curtis Ray Hillman II was born on February 3, 1957, in Sacramento to Curtis and Betty (Butcher) Hillman. He was a Karuk tribal member and spent most of his life in Orleans, until about 1995 when he moved to Arcata with the love of his life, Serena Brooks.

Curt had a few different careers. He was a logger and was known as “Little Cat” because his dad, big Curt, was a cat skinner known as “Big Cat.” He worked at the sewage treatment plant in Arcata for a while and he also worked at the Karuk Tribe Department of Fisheries. If there was something that needed fixing, he’d figure it out. Whether or not he had the right parts or tools, he always found a solution. At one point he was the coach for the women’s softball team in Orleans. He loved that.

Curtis loved his friends and family fiercely and deeply. His heart was pure gold, and he was one to give little tokens to those he loved and cared about. If you needed help, he was there. He was the one who would give you his shirt off his back if he thought you needed it more than him. He rarely met a stranger and would strike up a conversation with anyone. He was a friend to everyone.

Curtis had a very large sense of humor. He could find humor in almost anything. There was never a conversation with him where he didn’t let out a giggle somewhere along the way. He loved his native culture and all the old ways. He recently attended a powwow in New Mexico and was in awe stating, “I never saw so many Indians in one place in my whole life!” He was a lover of cars and never owned a vehicle that he didn’t beef up to some sort of hot-rod status. He loved the drag races out in Samoa and attended as much as possible.

Curtis was predeceased by his parents, his brother Leroy Gene Hillman, and his son Justin Donahue.

Curtis is survived by his love, Serena, children Sian, Codie, Ahanu, Windsong; sisters Charlene, Shelley, Debbie, Skooter and brothers Dale and Leon as well as numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and several lifelong friends. He leaves behind his beloved cat Trent, who misses him terribly.

A celebration of Curt’s life will be held on June 10, 2023, at the Karuk DNR building in Orleans at 11 a.m. with Kathy McCovey officiating. Potluck to follow, so bring a side dish and a story.


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