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Currents: in memoriam: curtis l. ivey

Friend and Legend Curtis L. Ivey

Curtis L. Ivey, the friend and Legends Society member for whom Colby-Sawyer College's science center was named in 2004, passed away on Friday, Jan. 28, 2011 while visiting in Naples, Fla. He was 89. Born in New York City on Aug. 9, 1921, he was the son of the late Leon Barr Ivey and Maria Demaria.

Formerly of Greenwich, Conn., and Naples, Fla., Mr. Ivey relocated to New London, N.H., with his wife, Doris, to be closer to their family and beloved “log cabin” on Lake Sunapee, where they had spent more than 50 summers. Mr. Ivey was a member and former commodore of the Lake Sunapee Yacht Club. He was an active Star sailor who, with his son, Curtis “Skeeter” Jr., still holds the record for the only undefeated sailing season, winning every race of the summer of 1973. His love of the Lake Sunapee Region is visible through his philanthropic support for Colby-Sawyer, New London Hospital, the Lake Sunapee Protective Association and the Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice.

Before the late 1990s, Curtis and Doris Ivey had little connection to Colby-Sawyer, yet they were friends with many area residents who were involved with the college, including the late Joan H. and Charles J. “Chuck” Lawson, a former chairman of the Board of Trustees. Mr. Ivey had told Chuck Lawson that he was considering a way to honor the memory of his son, Curtis Ivey Jr. While touring the campus with the Lawsons, Mr. Ivey, a graduate of Bucknell University who had studied biology and chemistry, recognized the need for a new science center. He and Doris made a significant investment in the college, joined the Legends Society, and agreed to allow the college to name the new science center in honor of their family.

On Sept. 17, 2004, Curtis and Doris Ivey, their children and grandchildren, and hundreds of college community members and friends attended the dedication ceremony for the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center. The two-story, 33,000-square-foot center was named in memory of their son, Curtis Ivey Jr., and a daughter, Elizabeth Ivey Jurgenson, who had recently died.

The $6 million building houses the Natural Sciences and Environmental Studies Departments and features a 182-seat lecture hall, Clements Hall; a water-quality laboratory; a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory; as well as versatile classrooms, student project rooms and faculty and staff offices. “Curtis Ivey was a great man who did much for many,” said President Tom Galligan. “He and his wife, Doris, helped to transform Colby-Sawyer College with their vision of and support for the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center. We all send our sympathy and good thoughts to Doris and the entire family.”

At the dedication ceremony, then President Anne Ponder said the Iveys' initial gift had inspired the many others who helped to make possible the building she described as “one of the seven wonders” of Colby-Sawyer's history. The sciences had changed tremendously in the 42 years since the Reichhold Science Center was built, she said, and the college needed a new building equipped to reflect those changes. “You have turned a personal and family anguish into something that will benefit future generations,” President Ponder told the Ivey family.

Chairman of the Board of Trustees Anne Winton Black '73, '75 thanked Curtis and Doris Ivey for their “visionary philanthropy” in memory of their children. “Their loss is profound. But these lives and the legacy of the Ivey family will be celebrated and renewed every day in this splendid structure.”

During construction, Mr. Ivey visited campus and noticed the faculty's enthusiasm for the new science center. “They seem ecstatic,” he told President Ponder. Later, when he first walked into the completed center, he said he was “astounded” by the size of the building and the amount of equipment it featured. “Everything is absolutely sensational, magnificent!” he said. Mr. and Mrs. Ivey were particularly pleased that the center included a Lake Sunapee Protective Association laboratory for water-quality testing in the region. “When we made our donation, my feeling was that it would be an asset to both the college and the community,” Mr. Ivey said. “I feel that the new science center has achieved this and then some.”

Mr. Ivey was a successful businessman whose interests included real estate development, insurance, hotels, restaurants and nursing homes throughout the Northeast. He served on many Boards of Directors, including The Putnam Builders, Inc. of Greenwich, Conn.; Naples Athletic Club, Naples, Fla., Labsphere, Inc. of New London, N.H.; and the Berkshire Bank and Trust in Great Barrington, Mass. He served as president and CEO of Medic-Shield Nursing Centers, Inc., a public company headquartered in Denver, Colo.; Huck Industries, of Greenwich, Conn.; and Curtis L. Ivey, Inc., a real estate development firm in Greenwich, Conn. In the early 1960s, Mr. Ivey's firm developed the largest single residential tract of land in Greenwich, known today as Burning Tree.

A decorated war hero, Mr. Ivey was a captain in the 2nd Marine Division of the U.S. Marine Corp. and served in the Pacific during World War II. He led an amphibious landing vehicle onto the beaches of Saipan, one of the last battles of the pre-nuclear era and the site of one of the deadliest battles of the Pacific Theater. It is often referred to as the “beginning of the end” of U.S. involvement in the Pacific. Mr. Ivey was seriously wounded during that mission and was transferred back to a U.S. naval base for recovery.

Mr. Ivey is survived by Doris W. Ivey, his wife of 67 years, and five children, David W. Ivey of Hanover, Alan B. Ivey of Sunapee, Andree Ivey Fontaine and Andrew P. Ivey both of Weston, Mass., and Kathleen Ivey Carrara of Charlotte, Vt.; 18 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Arthur R. Ivey and John A. Kirwin, both formerly of Greenwich, Conn., and three children, Curtis L. Ivey Jr., Elizabeth Ivey Roy Jurgenson and Arthur John Ivey.

The viewing will take place on Friday, Feb. 4, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Chadwick's Funeral Home in New London, N.H. Funeral services will be held at St. Joachim Church in Sunapee, N.H., on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Lake Sunapee Region VNA & Hospice, P.O. Box 2209, New London, NH 03257.