Just 10 days off being a member of Wendouree Athletics Club for 60 years, Kingsley Curtis has passed away.
He registered with the club on October 18, 1952, and last month Curtis was endorsed for Athletics Victoria life membership.
He was awaiting a presentation recognising his dedication when he died suddenly on Sunday at St John of God hospital in Ballarat.
The Courier spoke to Curtis last month about his achievements in athletics, his work as an official and the Wendouree Athletics Club.
“I was 17 when I joined. A friend took me along and I kept going and going long after he had finished, mainly competing in long distance running,” Curtis said.
After retiring from athletics competition in 1975, he continued to officiate and didn’t look back.
Bill McLennan, also an official with Wendouree Athletics Club, knew Kingsley for more than 40 years.
“He had quite a colourful career – working for Wendouree, then for Ballarat at their events, then for Victoria at their events and then for Australia at their top events.
“He was just the person they called in,” McLennan said.
Curtis told The Courier in September about when he started a race Cathy Freeman ran in.
“I started Cathy in her first race back from the Sydney Olympics win.
“I just remember she had very long legs – I couldn’t get over them,” he said.
Curtis earned his Athletics Victoria grading in 1968, and worked his way up to the highest possible grading in athletics.
“Athletics was his passion. Last year he missed the occasional event, but anytime he was healthy and up to it, he was there,” McLennan said. “He would occasionally come down to Llanberris Reserve in a wheelchair.”
McLennan began to volunteer at the Wendouree club alongside Curtis from 1978.
“He didn’t drive, so I drove him everywhere,” he recalled. “When you work alongside someone for so many years . . . you know (how well you get to know them).
“We didn’t always agree, but he was a close friend. He wasn’t just another official.
“A lot of people knew him, but I knew him better than most.”
“We worked together, travelled together. If the other one wasn’t there, something was wrong.”
As an athlete, he competed in all track events, as well as cross country. He even competed in marathons.
On top of his commitment to athletics, he also loved his family.
“He was a dedicated family man, proud of their achievements,” McLennan said.
“He has two children, Andrew and Sue, and his wife Marion, who will miss him.”
Kingsley Curtis’ funeral will be held at the Neil Street Uniting Church on Friday.