He vividly recalls his first day in her class in 1953.
“She was going over class rolls and putting a name to a face in alphabetical order. She said, ‘Robert: You see that desk by the blackboard? That’s where your brother Philip sat. Your sister Mary sat there and your brother William sat there. They were all very good students and I expect you to be a very good student.’ ’’
She was, he also noted, “a big Elvis fan.’’
Former Miami News editor Howard Kleinberg, a Miami High alum, called Miss Curry “an icon.’’ He interviewed her for his book about the school and kept up with her until her death.
“She remembered everybody she ever had in class and her mind was beyond sharp even after 100,’’ he said. “She was still correcting people on their errors — guys in their 60s and 70s...A lot of alumni events rotated around her.’’
For her 100th birthday in 2006, friends gave a luncheon at the Riviera County Club during which she was presented 100 red roses.
“She called me the next day and said there were 104,’’ Kleinberg said.
Historic preservationist Joseph Fitzgerald, class of ’49, recalled that his brother told him to avoid Miss Curry’s class “because she expected her students to study.’’
At her funeral Friday at First Methodist Church of Coral Gables, The Rev. Thom Shafer noted that for all her propriety, Miss Curry was “very opinionated, and today is no exception.’’ She left four handwritten pages of instructions about the service, telling him to wear a suit.
After she retired, Miss Curry bought a plot of land in exclusive Gables Estates from its developer, Arthur Vining Davis, who lived across the street.
She commissioned an Antebellum-style residence, which she filled with French Provincial furniture and custom-woven Oriental rugs, heavy brocade drapes, needlepoint pillows and gilt-framed oil paintings. She installed an elevator, and an imposing, hand-carved marble mantle.
“They added butler’s quarters about 10 years later,’’ recalled Bill Richmond, whose father, a contractor, built the house.
Various shades of blue dominate the decor.
“It was her favorite color,’’ said Audrey Ross. “She used to say, ‘Any color will do as long as it’s blue.’ ’’
With live-in companions, she cared for her mother and her mother’s twin, her Aunt Lamar, and doted on a succession of white toy poodles.
A houseman chauffeured Miss Curry to church and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, to meetings of the Coral Gables Garden Club and the Prologue Society (for history buffs), to Miami High alumni lunches and class reunions, and to regular beauty-shop appointments.
At Prologue, “she would ask the most wonderful questions,’’ said Miami historian Arva Moore Parks.
She gave generously to favored causes. Among them: her church, Florida Southern, and the College of the Ozarks, one of her mother’s great interests, which awarded Miss Curry an honorary doctoral degree.
After her mother and aunt died in the ’60s, Miss Curry travelled in style — five round-the-world trips on the QE2, all in her favorite cabin — collecting precious objets, tourist trinkets and a trove of priceless memories.