Coffee Equipment Icon Robert A. Curtis Dies At 86

Posted On: 7/1/2016

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TAGS: Bob Curtis obituary, Robert A. "Bob" Curtis, Wilbur Curtis Co., foodservice, coffee industries, vending Margaret Curtis

Wilbur Cutis, Robert Curtis THOUSAND OAKS, CA -- Robert A. "Bob" Curtis, chairman of Wilbur Curtis Co., and a legend in the foodservice and coffee industries, died on June 24 here. He was 86.

Curtis was second in Wilbur Curtis's fourth-generation lineage and instrumental in building the company into a leading coffee and tea brewing equipment manufacturer.

He was born in Hartford, CT. His mother was Margaret Curtis, who founded Wilbur Curtis. Bob attended the prestigious New Mexico Military Institute and later majored in advertising at the University of Southern California. He joined the school's ROTC program and served as Air Force Squadron Commander. He went on to serve in the U.S. Army with distinction.

Montebello, CA-based Wilbur Curtis Co. was founded in 1941, and in 1948, Bob began working in the family business on his summer vacations, cutting his teeth in sales and rising through the ranks. He was named executive vice-president after his mother took the reins of the company in the early 1960s, and became president in 1989.

"Always be humble. Don't boast about what you do. Appreciate the people you serve. Take care of your family. These were words Bob Curtis lived by," the company said. "They were also part of a credo that helped him and the company transform having a mere 'cup of joe' into a truly memorable experience."

Bob's son, Kevin, joined Wilbur Curtis Co. in 1985, and is now president and chief executive. His other son, Michael, followed in 1993, and is executive vice-president. His daughters Katie and Meg hold positions within the company, and the fourth-generation family members, Michael's sons Brant and Patrick, are also involved in the family business.

Bob is survived by his wife, Sallee, and her three children; his two sons, Kevin and Michael; four daughters, Suzi, Meg, June and Katie; and 17 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to World Coffee Research or Grounds For Health in memory of Robert Curtis.