Activist couple moving from Niles to Colorado

Published 4:37 am Wednesday, May 14, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- They have lived in Niles for more than 50 years and raised their two children, Scott and Christine, here.
But Ray and Elaine Curtis, who before and during their more than 50-year marriage have taken a great interest in environmental issues and recycle almost everything they use, are headed for the mountains; Colorado Springs, Colo., to be more precise.
That's where their daughter Christine lives with her husband and children.
Ray, who as a young man worked in a coal mine and served in the U.S. Navy for a while, was for almost 30 years before his retirement the director of Clark's Engineering Test Lab in Buchanan, where he at times supervised 30 to 40 people.
Elaine, who worked as a legal secretary in Chicago after finishing high school there, was, after the two moved to Niles and had children, a stay-at-home mom who spent her free time reading up on the environment.
The two are long-time members of the Prairie Club, an environmental organization with headquarters in Chicago, which was instrumental in saving the Indiana Dunes, Ind., from development and exploitation.
After more than 50 years in Niles, though, the two said they do have mixed emotions about leaving so many friends behind.
Ray and Elaine, however, while making things ready for their move later this week, did have time to sit down and talk about some of the environmental issues they for a long time have taken an interest in.
Ray said he would like to see more people start using alternative energy sources and stop using oil and coal.
Ray, who has used the sun to heat up his own house for many years, however, said we need to start taking advantage of that resource now, before it's too late.
Ray also said he thinks people are overly concerned with themselves, and that not enough focus is put on the many environmental issues that can have an impact on humans in the future.
Ray hopes someday in the near future people will realize how important it is to take care of the environment and its animals for the sake and benefit of future generations.
In the meantime, Ray and Elaine do what they can to minimize their impact on the environment, not just by using the sun to heat their house and by recycling.
Elaine said she doesn't use detergents for washing clothes, for example.
They also don't have a garbage disposal and they use baking soda for dish washing.
She encourages people to learn more about the environment and to share that knowledge with other people.
Throughout her life, of which her garden is proof, she has realized the benefit and joy of growing different plants.
She said Michigan is such a great place for growing things, and she believes it's a gift to be able to grow an apple in your backyard.
Although Ray and Elaine have friends and family in Colorado, they said they will miss Niles.