Obituary: John J. Curzio, 78

by | Dec 28, 2021

Photo by Emily Finch, courtesy of Unsplash.
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John Joseph Curzio, 78, passed away on December 25.

Born in Westerly, on June 9, 1943, he was the son of the late John James Curzio and Mary (Christina) Curzio. One of four children, he will be greatly missed by his two surviving siblings, Connie Desillier of Ledyard, Conn., and Jim Curzio of Salem, Ore.  He was predeceased by his older sister, Gloria Najim.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Linda (Partelo) Curzio, his two daughters Heather Biben (Matt) and Susan Curzio (Adam Paul), along with his adoring granddaughters: Delia, Kalina and Violet. He is also survived by many loving members of his extended family and a large circle of friends who all loved him dearly.

John was passionate, caring, and loved by all who were lucky enough to meet him.

He was grateful to have been a talented double bass player, humble about his skills, forever practicing, and always ready to “gig” with his wide, supportive and often hysterically funny group of musician buddies. John graduated from The Berklee School (now College) of Music in Boston (Class of ’67). He is listed in “Who’s Who in Rhode Island Jazz” by Lloyd Kaplan and Robert Petteruti and “A Treasury of R.I. Jazz and Swing Musicians,” by Dennis Pratt and Dr. Tom Shaker. He toured with The Glenn Miller Band in the summer of 1970, but quickly realized he wasn’t meant for life on the road. He’s best known locally for playing with the Tony Cippola Trio at the Greenwich Tavern; with Andy DiPaolo at Trattoria Simpatico and around the nursing home scene; with Al Conte at the Dunes Club; and with many other talented musicians throughout southern New England.

John taught instrumental music in the Warwick school system. He began his career in 1967, with 17 years at Aldrich Jr. High. He then moved on to the elementary schools, and retired from teaching in 1999. He was well-respected by the students who studied under him. He had a terrible memory for his students’ names, but rest-assured, he remembered which instrument they played!

Not far behind music and his bass, he had a love for food. Spaghetti with his mother’s meatballs, covered in Parmesan cheese, was his all-time favorite. Ham and cheese (or jamon y queso when traveling abroad) was always on the menu. He simply appreciated good food and a timely dinner. His stomach seemed to know when it was 5 p.m.!

A vocal proponent of hard work, John reminded his daughters often of his first jobs as a grave digger and shoe shiner. He never once took what he had earned for granted. He was perpetually vacuuming, doing the dishes, or filling up the cars on his time “off.” He hardly ever purchased anything new for himself. If anything he owned broke or ripped, it was carefully repaired with a seemingly endless supply of duct tape.

John found peace in the simplest but most important parts of life.

Time spent traveling with his wife and lifelong friends was treasured. Time spent playing with his granddaughters meant the world to him. Time spent chatting on the phone with his daughters, family, and friends will be sorely missed by all.

If anything was bothering anyone, he would famously say, “Drink some water and take a walk!” He followed this mantra himself; exercise was his religion. In his younger days, you could find John bike riding around Block Island and later, around the local neighborhoods (he was a member of the East Greenwich “Old Spokes” club), or swimming daily at the YMCA before work. Later in life, he would walk for hours through Goddard Park, petting the dogs and enjoying the solitude.

His repeated advice, which he thoroughly embodied, was to surround yourself with respectful and respectable people: “Your friends are the reflection of yourself. And – Rhode Island is a small place; everyone knows everyone. Be kind!”

No services are planned at this time. Enjoy your families and the holiday season. If you’re so inclined, sing (or stream) Louis Armstrong’s “When the Saints Go Marching In” or “What a Wonderful World” in his memory.

In lieu of flowers to the family, please consider making a donation to the R.I. Community Food Bank.

You can leave an online condolence at the funeral home HERE.

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