Alan Curtis, 1947-2013

Alan Curtis died Dec. 11 at the age of 66 and, as Pavement Advisory Board member Michael Nawa put it, “Somehow our industry feels smaller today.”

How true. But the paving and pavement maintenance industry – and this magazine and National Pavement Expo – wouldn’t be big enough to feel small without the support Alan Curtis provided starting in 1991 when he was the keynote speaker (not surprisingly the topic was “Bringing Quality to Pavement Maintenance”) at Pavement’s first West Coast show in Long Beach, CA.

An Advisory Board member since 1992, and an engineer who from 1983-2007 operated Chec Consultants in Redding, CA, Alan Curtis believed in this industry. He believed in education and he energized his beliefs with his actions. From this magazine’s early days, he was an unpaid and much-pestered consultant and fact checker, the go-to reference to make sure ideas and articles were on track and that explanations were on target. And he was a force at NPE and NPE West, where he brought a vitality to his presentations with an air of “this isn’t so difficult.” Since he believed in doing work the right way he was willing – eager – to spend time with contractors. He could explain complex engineering principles and technical concepts in terms just about anyone can understand, and in doing so he helped raise the standards on paving and pavement maintenance jobs, and helped contractors improve the work and service they provide their customers. In other words, he helped create this industry by making it more credible.

There are undoubtedly thousands of contractors who have improved their on-the-job operations as a result of something they learned from Alan Curtis, and all those contractors have improved their business – and so, the industry.

So we’ll miss Alan Curtis and his black Stetson cowboy hat (often paired with his bright purple shirt and bolo tie). But Alan made his mark on this industry and his impact can be seen in every accurate pavement assessment, every correctly applied solution, and every quality job completed by a contractor.