BOSTON Boston said goodbye to longtime television news anchor Chet Curtis on Monday.
Hundreds of mourners filled the magnificently restored 120-year-old sanctuary at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in the Back Bay for a funeral Mass for Curtis, who died last week after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 74 years old.
One of Boston’s most respected citizens, the longtime news anchor at WCVB-TV and later at New England Cable News was remembered with tributes from his three daughters.
The eldest, Dana Curtis Keep, recalled her father’s generosity, not just to his newsroom peers.
“He gave in ways too numerous to mention, often quietly and behind the scenes when someone going through a tough time simply needed a hand,” she said. “He gave time, encouragement, support and second chances. We learned the true joy in giving.”
His middle daughter, Dawn Curtis Hanley, said while he’s remembered at the anchor desk, he loved being out in the field as a reporter.
“He loved the smaller human interest stories about the people who make up the fabric of this city,” she said. “His imprint has been deeply etched into the coverage of local news in Boston for the past 45 years. As Dad used to say, ‘It is the stuff of dreams to be paid for doing what you love.’ ”
The youngest of his daughters, Lindsay Curtis Wynalek, echoed her sisters’ praise of their father “as a father.”
“Dad was our greatest cheerleader and took pride in watching us in every part of his life,” she said. “Through all of the accolades he received for his professional career, he always said we were his biggest accomplishments.”
Chet Curtis’ mother died while he was still an infant. His father died when he was a teenager. He began his career in broadcast journalism at the age of 15. He worked at major news stations in Washington, D.C., and New York City before arriving in Boston in 1968, where for many in this city he became part of the family.
Mourners included Bev Hanley, of Grafton. She only knew Curtis as part of the nightly news team at Channel 5. Watching the news, with Curtis and his co-anchor and then-wife Natalie Jacobson, was part of her evening ritual.
“Back then,” Hanley said, “you came home, you had dinner with ’em and you made your night complete.”
There were former colleagues from Channel 5, like Susan Wornick, Jim Boyd, Dick Albert, Mike Lynch, Pam Cross and David Boeri (who’s now with WBUR).
“Chet was a king, but the true measure of a man is how good a servant he is and that’s what this service was about,” Boeri said. “Chet was a great servant. His humanity was most important in the end. And that all came through here. Not how terrific he was in the news but what a great human servant he was.”