Kenneth Hayden Curchin, 100, of Fair Haven, passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 29 at Riverview Hospital in Red Bank. He was a life-long resident of Monmouth County, born on April 19, 1917 in Fair Haven. His family moved to Red Bank and then Little Silver. He graduated from Red Bank High School in 1935, working many jobs before and after to help support his mother and father during the Great Depression.
At 17, he learned to fly beginning his lifelong love of aviation. He was drafted in 1941 before World War II and spent 14 months in Northern British Columbia and the Yukon building the ALCAN Highway, where temperatures plunged to -70 degrees during winter nights. Fulfilling a dream, he then qualified for the Aviation Cadets and became a B-17 pilot. As part of the 487th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, he flew missions into Germany to bomb the railroads that were moving supplies to the German armies. After the war, he returned to his boyhood home and joined his father at Curchin’s Barber Shop on Linden Place in Red Bank, where he cut hair until he retired at age 74.
He was predeceased by his brothers Mortimer, Frank and Alonzo. He was also predeceased by the love of his life, his wife of 56 years, Thelma Long Curchin, whom he met on a fortunate blind date and married in All Saints Episcopal Church in Navesink in 1951. He is survived by his five adoring children: daughters, Judy (Richard Preston) and Linda (Charles Montgomery) and sons Kenneth (Claudia Maist), Thomas (Sarah Kinter), and Lawrence. He lived in the home that he and Thelma purchased in 1955 in Fair Haven until his death. He was able to live in his own home his entire life thanks to the loving in-home care his son, Lawrence, provided during his last six years. He also leaves 12 cherished grandchildren: Thomas, Patrick, Andrew, Kenneth, Ashley, Ryan, William, Alice, Emma, Eamon, Jonah and Grace; and four great-children, Tai, Miriam, Summer and Hannah.
His entire life was devoted to his family and his country. He and his adored wife, Thel, were equal partners on a team instilling in their children their core values – get a good education, always try your hardest, be thrifty, be reliable, be responsible and always do the right thing. He had many oft-repeated sayings, including “Keep on plugging,” “Keep the faith,” and “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” His great devotion to Thel was most evident during the last 10 years of her life, when he spent his days at her nursing home bedside. He taught his children and grandchildren what it meant to be a great husband and father.
Please come celebrate his life with our family when he will get his final set of wings on Saturday, May 13 from 2 until 5 p.m. or on Monday, May 15 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St. Red Bank. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held at Thompson’s at 11 a.m. on Monday, May 15. Interment at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Arneytown, will be at 1 p.m. on Monday, May 15. Memorial donations in his name may be made to the Disabled American Veterans at www.dav.org/donate or to the 8th Air Force Museum at www.mightyeighth.org.
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