Homer C. Curtis, 96, psychoanalyst and teacher

Homer C. Curtis
Homer C. Curtis
Posted: June 18, 2013

Homer C. Curtis, 96, a retired psychoanalyst and leader in the analytic community, died of coronary artery disease on Tuesday, June 4, at Waverly Heights in Gladwyne.

Before moving to the retirement village in 2011, he had lived in Haverford, Lower Merion Township, for almost 60 years.

Dr. Curtis practiced in Haverford and Philadelphia, training therapists and psychoanalysts and treating patients until retiring several years ago.

"His warmth, empathy, and insightfulness made him a much sought-after analyst, supervisor, and teacher," his family said in a prepared statement.

He authored and presented numerous papers and was known for his clear, incisive thinking about psychoanalytic theory and practice.

Dr. Curtis was born and raised in Salt Lake City, the middle of five children in a Mormon family. He met and married the former Enid Ashton in the Mormon community; the two had seven children.

As a young man, he went on a Mormon mission to Germany for two years just before the start of World War II. During the war, he served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the States.

He graduated from the University of Utah Medical School in 1944 and began his psychiatric training while a lieutenant in the Army Reserve. He completed a residency in psychiatry in 1950 at the former Institute of Pennsylvania Hospital, where he later became senior attending psychiatrist.

In his role as an educator and supervisor, Dr. Curtis trained generations of clinicians. He held positions as professor of psychiatry at what was then known as Hahnemann Medical College and adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He was a training and supervising analyst at the Institute of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis and, later, at the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia.

A consensus builder, Dr. Curtis was active in various committees and working groups for local, national, and international psychoanalytic organizations. He was president of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis from 1970 to 1972, and president of the American Psychoanalytic Association from 1988 to 1990.

In the late 1990s, he played a key role in renewing an alliance that had faltered between the two major psychoanalytic institutes in Philadelphia to form the Psychoanalytic Center of Philadelphia.

Dr. Curtis was at the forefront of analytic-training issues. He chaired the Committee on Prerequisites for Training, which sets standards, and worked to open up analytic training to non-physicians.

"He was always very progressive," said son Scott.

In 1990, Dr. Curtis founded the Russian American Education Exchange to advance the training and practice of psychoanalysis in Russia. He cofounded the Euro-American Psychoanalytic Clinical Conference in 1989. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Psychiatric Society in 1997.

Despite his intellect and achievements, he was modest and down to earth. He loved sports, hiking, rafting, and traveling with his wife.

He especially enjoyed time spent with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

"His quiet strength, thoughtfulness, and nonjudgmental attitude touched all who came into contact with him. People unfailingly came away feeling encouraged or supported, and certain they mattered," his family said.

In addition to his his son and wife, Dr. Curtis is survived by sons John and Paul; daughters Kathryn Christensen, Carolyn, and Deborah; 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Another son, Richard, died in 2011 of esophageal cancer.

Donations may be made to Rick's Run, benefiting esophageal cancer research, c/o Judith Curtis, 42 Plymouth Rd., Springfield, Pa. 19064.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Condolences to the family may be offered at www.chadwickmckinney.com.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8102 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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