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For the week of May 9 through May 15, 2001

Rainey Curtis, local personality, passes away

Express Staff Writer

Lorraine Hulen Curtis, known as "Rainey," was an instrumental and vivacious member of the community for over 40 years. She died at age 79 Friday in Boise.

A Sacramento native, she was a graduate of the drama school at the Pasadena Playhouse and claimed as her many jobs and careers employment counselor, secretary, elevator operator, recreation supervisor, actress, mother, writer, editor, real estate agent, antiques store owner and developer.

This last refers to her development of Hulen Meadows (named for her parents) north of Ketchum in the 1970s. She was the California state drama chairman, the ethics chairman for the Junior Federation of Women’s Clubs in California and the first woman appointed to the board of directors of the Sun Valley Hospital (Moritz). She was also director of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Chamber of Commerce.

One of her local accomplishments was obtaining the land on the Big Wood River to build a new home for the Presbyterian Church, where she was an elder. At that time services were being performed in a small house, where the restaurant Mama Inez is now housed.

Her antiques store, It’s Quite Obvious, was on Fourth Street in the 1980s in an old house she renovated, behind the Post Office. Later she developed a board game called Happy Traveler in the same building.

For many years Curtis also kept a flat in London, where she spent time when antiquing in England for her shop.

Curtis was renowned locally as a distinctive personality. Curtis Page, pastor at the Church of the Bigwood from 1971-1980, said she was "very active" in the church.

"Rainey was a flamboyant character, a single Ketchum business woman who was very involved in the community," he said. "She had been an actress and turned that into sales. She made things happen."

Curtis was also the author of a book of sayings and photographs by her son Chuck Curtis, A Whole New Way of Being, in which she laid out some of her thoughts on life, one of which was: "Everyone must have a secret soul which is never revealed to others…otherwise we would lose our identity as individuals,"---something her friends claim she was never in danger of doing.

"She was a breakthrough kind of person," said good friend Niki Foster. "When she bought that land (where Hulen Meadows is situated), all the good old boys laughed at her. They said: you’ll never make anything out of that sheep pasture. They fought her teeth and nail, and by God, she did it. "She was one of the fiestiest, dearest women I’ve ever known. In the old days we used to play poker together at Rainey’s house. It was great fun."

Another friend, Dottie Harpster, remembers their fun times together: "She was like my sister."

One day at Dollar nearly 30 years ago they were skiing together when Rainey somehow fell off the lift. "She was covered in snow, so cute and so much fun. She’d try anything and usually it worked. She was a humdinger."

An obituary appears on Page A22 of the printed Idaho Mountain Express.



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