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Meet a Badger: Jim Curtis ’86

What is your hometown? 

I was raised in Milwaukee, WI.

Which years did you attend UW?

I attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1982 to 1986.

What was your major and what degree did you obtain? 

I have a BS in Geology and Geophysics, after a not so stellar beginning in engineering.

Where do you live now?

Since graduation, I have lived in several places in the Midwest including Janesville, WI, Chicago, Minneapolis, and the greater St. Louis area.  I have lived in Springfield, IL for the past ten years with my wife, Mary, and teenage daughter, Anna.

Describe your current job and career path?

Most of my professional career has been as an environmental consultant investigating and remediating hazardous waste sites.  I now work for the Illinois Department of Transportation in Springfield, Illinois performing similar responsibilities.

What is your favorite Badger memory?

I fondly recall my parents’ annual tailgating event on football Saturdays.  I enjoyed witnessing my parents reliving their college days with their life-long friends and choosing to include me.  I felt like a real grown-up.  I also remember writing a personal check for the first time for tuition while standing in the class registration line in the aromatic Stock Pavilion during registration week.

How would you describe your education from UW?

Perfunctory.  (Editor’s note:  We had to look that one up!)

What is your involvement with the WAA: HOI alumni chapter?

Our family has participated in chapter social events for several years and in 2020 I assumed the duties of Treasurer.

Do you have any hobbies?  If so, please describe one.

I learned to sail on Lake Michigan from my parents while a kid.  My wife, Mary, and I bought our first sailboat in Minneapolis and used it often on the many inland lakes around the Twin Cities.  I recently purchased a Flying Scot and sail it on Lake Springfield and at Clinton Lake (which serves as a cooling source for the 1970s built Clinton Nuclear Generating Station).

What is a fun fact which people may not know about you?

Cheesecake!!!  I’m on a long, lifetime, world-wide search for the best.  Of course, there’s the light and fluffy kind, dense, creamy, flavored, drizzled with chocolate, and the list is long.  You never know where you’ll find a good one.  One of the best was in a Chinese restaurant near the train station in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Who would’ve thought?

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