Dora Ella (Haller) Curtis was born at Canoe Creek, near Clinton, on July 29, 1910.
Dora was the fourth child born to Clotilda (Boitano) Sabatini and Charlie Haller. Dora was called Gramma Curtis to many friends as well as Auntie Boo, which her nieces and nephews commonly called her because of her white hair. Dora, a wife, mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and dear friend will be missed by all those she touched during her life.
Dora had three sisters, Ella (Needles), Wilhemina May (Karlander), Elsie (Eagle) and three brothers, Charlie, Eddie, and Alvin (nicknamed Boise). Due to the classroom sizes, Dora had to attend schools all over the Cariboo: Clinton, 150 Mile House, Lac la Hache, and Springhouse – wherever they needed the students, she attended. In her teen years, Dora lived in Merritt with her aunt and uncle, Maggie and Gus Haller. Later she moved to Springhouse with her aunt and uncle, May and Antoine Boitano. This is where she met her cousin Chrissy (Pigeon). Dora and Chrissy had a strong friendship that lasted well into the years, especially with the invention of the telephone, as they would phone each other every morning at 8 a.m. precisely, until Chrissy’s passing in 1991.
Dora and her sister Elsie had a very strong bond throughout their childhood that continued until Elsie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and relocated to Prince George. This time was hard for Dora, but with the support of her friends and family it made the days without her more bearable.
Both the Haller and Boitano families were well known for their pioneering heritages throughout Lillooet and the Cariboo Chilcotin regions. The Haller’s were well known for their strong hand in ranching, mining, and general labourers. To this date, the Haller family name is strong amongst their communities and their ties to the native culture remains strong.
The Boitano descendants (Augustine, Clotilda’s father) immigrated from Genoa, Italy in March of 1857. Upon his arrival in the Cariboo in 1858, he staked lands 20 miles south of Williams Lake. This is where he planned to homestead, so he dug a well 30 feet deep. The well gave up water so pure and cold that in gratitude, he named his homestead Springhouse.
It was in Springhouse where Dora met Ray Curtis. He traveled to Alkali to visit on a regular basis. On June 27, 1931, Ray and Dora were the first couple to be married in the little Catholic Church on Yorston Street where the Atwood Clinic is today. Together they built their home on Third Avenue and Barnard Street in Williams Lake. They had 12 children – Mildred, Harry, Reta, Raymond, twins Darwin and Darrell, Jacqueline, Donne-Rae, Owen, Thomas, Charles, and Darlene.
Ray and Dora were always on the go. Together they traveled throughout the Cariboo. Their Knife Creek homestead was a place for the families to meet. It brings fond memories to all those who visited. There were chores, plenty of work in the garden and lots of fun with the cousins, but Dora’s special home-cooked meals and desserts made all the hard work worthwhile. Berry picking and camping were very special times for their children and many grandchildren. The Williams Lake Stampede always was a busy time at the home on Third and Barnard. The old cabin was always full of dear friends and family that had a lot to say of the days gone by. There was never a shortage of laughter and good food going around and Dora made sure no one went to bed hungry.
Ray and Dora sold their home on Third and Barnard in the 1980s and relocated to a home on Dog Creek Road. After a few years on Dog Creek Road, they moved back into Williams Lake and lived on Fourth Avenue. There was always a picnic lunch ready to go, for every day was a new venture.
Ray passed away on May 24, 1991 at the age of 81, just three weeks short of their 60th wedding anniversary. This was a very hard and trying time for Dora but there was always someone there to take her out for lunch and most importantly, out for a drive. After selling her home on Fourth, Dora moved to Cariboo Lodge. In the fall of 2002 at the age of 92 years, Dora was relocated to Deni House. The new Williams Lake Seniors Village is where Dora spent her final days, until her passing on March 27, 2005, at the age of 94.
Dora always held her family and loved ones dear. There always seemed to be another one on the way and to the end of her days, Dora left knowing that she had 24 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren. What an amazing lady to have such a great extended family and she always wanted to know what everyone was up to. To that end, we must say, Dora lived a very exciting, prosperous and meaningful life to have given us that entire legacy to cherish.
May you rest in peace Mom, for now you’re with your ‘cowboy.’ Happy trails to you both until we meet again.
As she would always say “too-to-loo old thing.”
Dora was predeceased by her husband Ray, children Harry, Rita, Raymond, Darwin, and Owen. She is survived by Mildred (Gordon) Gibson, Darrell, Jackie (Buzzi) Frizzi, Donna-Rae (Tommy) Ilnicki, Tom, Charlie, Darlene (Tom) Wheeldon.
Special thanks to Father Tony Ackerman, organist Edie Borkowski, native singers Cecilia DeRose, Margaret Gilbert, and Dale Benastick. Eulogy by Dan Curtis (grandson); pallbearers and honourary pallbearers; ladies of the Sacred Heart church for the lovely tea.
The family would also like to thank all their friends and family for their beautiful flowers, cards, food, and outpouring of love and support they received at this time; and for the kind donations to the Museum of the Cariboo Chilcotin.
Thank you all for your attendance at the service. Thank you to all who worked at Cariboo Lodge, Deni House, and Williams Lake Seniors Village and those in all level of work and the many volunteers who helped make her stay a pleasant one.
Thank you to Luc LaPrairie for his great service.
The Curtis families