James J. Curran, 88; Was A Judge In Schuylkill County For 40 Years

Posted: July 04, 1993

James J. Curran, 88, a former judge, former state prosecutor and patriarch of a prominent Pottsville family, died Thursday at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Pottsville.

Judge Curran was appointed to the bench in Schuylkill County in 1937, after a two-year stint as a deputy attorney general for Pennsylvania. He remained on the bench for 40 years and retired in 1978. He was elected president judge in 1959 and held that position until his retirement.

He was well known as a business and community leader in Schuylkill County. Judge Curran was a founder and former chairman of the Reading Anthracite Co. of Pottsville, and also a founder of WPAM radio in Pottsville.

Judge Curran was a charter member of the annual March of Dimes drive and served as chairman of the drive for 27 years. He was a founding member of the Schuylkill County chapter of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis.

He served on the board of Good Samaritan hospital for more than 40 years, 36 of them as president. During that time, he supervised several major expansion projects at the hospital, increasing the number of beds from 90 to more than 250. Pope John Paul II named Judge Curran a Knight of St. Gregory the Great for his efforts at Good Samaritan hospital.

Judge Curran was born in Minersville, the son of John T. and Mary Purcell Curran. He graduated from Minersville High School in 1922. He attended Keystone State Teachers College (now Kutztown University), and taught for two years in the Branch Township public schools.

He left teaching to take a job as a salesman and insurance solicitor for Prudential Life Insurance Co. before enrolling at Dickinson Law School in Carlisle to fulfill his ambition of becoming a lawyer. He graduated from Dickinson with a law degree and scholastic honors in 1930. Many years later, he received a law degree from Dickinson.

Judge Curran opened a general practice in Pottsville and Minersville, and took positions as a solicitor for surrounding boroughs and school districts. He also was president of the Minersville Safe Deposit Bank and chairman of the bank's board of directors.

He represented workers organizing unions, including the International Ladies Garment Workers; the Amalgamated Clothing Workers; the Teamsters; Chauffeurs, Carpenters and Joiners, and the United Mine Workers. Later, as a judge, he presided over all legal actions involving labor disputes in the county.

During World War II, Judge Curran was a member of the Schuylkill County Office of Civilian Defense, and chairman of the county's War Price and Rationing Boards. He was active in efforts to raise money for the war and received a certificate of service from President Harry Truman for his activities.

Judge Curran was married to the former Frances Dunn, who died on March 5, 1992.

He is survived by a son, James J. Jr.; four grandchildren, a nephew, and several grand-nephews and grand-nieces.

A funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Patrick's Church in Pottsville. Burial will be in the Calvary Cemetery in Pottsville.

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