Harris L. Curtis, 79: Created patented Polaroid technology

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PORTLAND — Harris Lester Curtis died at St. Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Residence on Nov. 26 after a long illness.

Curtis was born in Portland on May 19, 1934, the son of Dr. Harry L. and Alice E. (Hansen) Curtis. He attended Portland schools, and graduated from Portland High School with the class of 1952. He graduated from Bowdoin College with the class of 1956, where he was a member of Chi Psi Fraternity. He then served in the U.S. Army.

Upon discharge from the Army in 1958, he began a career as a research chemist at Polaroid Corp. in Cambridge, Mass. He is credited with patents relating to the development of the company’s color film. After residing in Needham, Mass., for many years, and 27 years at Polaroid, he and his wife returned to Maine. For a number of years, he was employed at the Federal Court House and U.S. Custom House.

Curtis had fond memories of summers spent on his grandparents’ farm in Aroostook County. As a boy, he rode his bike as he delivered the Portland paper accompanied by Red, his cocker spaniel. He was an active member of Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine, and took great pride in maintaining his woodlot. When his children were old enough, the family went on many camping vacations. He loved animals, especially cats and wild birds. He was devoted to his widowed mother, and cared for her until her death.

He was predeceased by his parents and a sister, Dorothy Salim, of Webster, N.Y.

He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Madeleine (Lucas); a daughter, Betsy Gamrat, and her husband, Mark, of Hudson, N.H.; and a son, Harry L. Curtis, and wife, Kimberly, of Reading, Mass. Surviving grandchildren are Amber and Gretchen Gamrat, and Kathryn and Harris “Sam” Curtis. Also surviving are a sister, Ruth C. Joy, of Needham, Mass., brother-in-law Mitchell Salim of Webster, N.Y., and several nieces and nephews.

He was the special nephew of Elizabeth C. White of Topsham.

The family extends thanks to the staff at St.Joseph’s Rehabilitation and Residence for their outstanding care and compassion.

Visitation was held Sunday at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, Portland. A Mass of Christian burial was held Monday at St. Pius X Catholic Church with Father Robert Regan as celebrant. Interment followed at Forest City Cemetery.

Donations in Curtis’ memory can be given to the Maine Parkinson Society, Attention Morgan Knox, 359 Perry Road, Bangor, ME 04401; the Muscular Dystrophy Association, 39 Mechanic St., Westbrook, ME 04092; or the Salvation Army, 297 Cumberland Ave., Portland, ME 04101.

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