Theodore D. Kurrus ’53

Theodore Dudley Kurrus, 86, passed away on Sept. 12, 2020. Ted was born in Mt. Kisco, New York, to Doris Dudley and Theodore Hornby Kurrus.

Ted’s youth was peppered with attendance at a dozen boarding schools, including Williston-Northampton School, Massachusetts, where in 2013 he was inducted into the Williston Hall of Fame for swimming. Following high school he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, where he graduated with a BA in Economics and a minor in English in 1957. Continuing his swimming talents in college, Ted was recognized by his alma mater in 1997 with induction into the Kenyon Hall of Fame for his swimming and diving achievements.

After college, Ted began a worldwide photo-journalism career, which led him to 68 countries and a nomination for a Pulitzer Prize in journalism. His writings appeared in a wide variety of international publications.

In 1959, he worked for Chicago’s United Press International and later move to the Indianapolis Bureau. From there, Ted set sail for Hawaii where he joined the Honolulu Advertiser in 1961 as general assignment reporter, and later transferred to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He worked on special assignment for United Press International while in Hawaii covering the summer Olympic team in Tokyo and winter Olympics in Innsbruck 1964. Afterward, he ran his own freelance agency in Hawaii in the famed Treehouse at International Market Place, Waikiki. His career path led him to employment in Hong Kong as Associate Editor of Asian Business and Industry Magazine.

Ted was the first member of the Western press corps to enter the Citadel Proper (near Hue) on Sept. 16, 1972, where he photographed the initial raising of the colors of the Republic of Vietnam over the Main Gate of the Citadel at Quang Tri, which was considered the Iwo Jima for the Vietnam War. The U.S. Marine Corps gave him a commendation acknowledging “personal courage, unlimited ability and noteworthy dedication to the fundamental concept of full and accurate press coverage of the event.”

After Vietnam, he joined the Dallas Morning News, where he developed a great interest of China (PRC). He began interpreting whatever events could be seen through that country’s “bamboo keyhole.” And in 1976, he had the opportunity to visit the PRC as one of only three American-based journalists invited to report on the semi-annual Kwangechow Export Commodities Fair. The six-part series attracted the attention of China watchers in the USA and overseas.

In the late ’70s, he managed worldwide communications for Rockwell International based in Dallas, Texas.

He returned to Hawaii in the early ’80s and continued his life of writing and sailing. In 1990, he and his wife, Rita Mae, semi-retired to Seaside, Oregon, where they opened Rita Mae’s Great Little Bed & Breakfast and Rita Mae’s Great Little Wine Haus & Deli Pub. In 1993, they fully retired to Green Valley, Arizona.

Ted’s passion for the sea led to a peregrination around the world. In Hawaii, he pursued his mariner passions with membership in Kaneohe Yacht Club. His boats, Harmattan II and Summer notched many cup victories. He shared his love of the sea with his family. While Ted was an aficionado of all sports, the Chicago Cubs were his favorite and their winning of the 2016 World Series was a dream come true.

Ted lived life large. Artist, cartoonist, poet, golfer, Life Master bridge player, were a few of the hats he wore. He filled his life with the talent he was given to the fullest.

Ted is survived by his wife of 38 years, Rita Mae; son David Kurrus; daughter Kimberly Kurrus (grandchildren Jamie and Aaron); son Alexander (wife Stephanie) Kurrus (grandchildren Matthew, Steven, Chase, Alexis, Austin); daughter Kristina (husband Chris) Pagnotta (grandchildren Zachary and Nicholas); stepson Christopher (wife Maria) Spelleri (grandchildren Robert and Anna).

Preceded in death by two brothers, Jack “Butch” Jenkins and Thomas Kurrus. Survived by his brother, Theo (wife Susan) Kurrus, New Smyrna Beach, Florida; and sister, Jo Ann Kurrus-Emory, Houston, Texas.

A private Mass will be held at Our Lady of the Valley in Green Valley. Donations in Ted’s memory may be made to St. Jude’s Hospital, Hawaii Special Olympics or Green Valley Fire District.

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