STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Curtis Birthwright -Teacher, Coach, Funeral Assistant/Driver, with a Side of Greeter

By: Andrea Ruggieri
Wednesday, July 18, 2018

And a big side of smiles… Curtis hands them out in healthy portions at a time when you may need some warmth. He takes his job as Greeter with great pride. Curtis admits, “I have been told that my smile often brings joy to a room. If I can share my smile and a kind word of encouragement, then my role as a Greeter is complete.”

This man is a born “people person.” He works with young people every day at his full-time job during the school year. Curtis has been employed at Rochester City School District for 22 years teaching grades 1-6, currently teaching 5th graders at School #16. There’s no doubt his smiles are contagious with his students as well! And it doesn’t end with teaching, Curtis has graced many a field, diamond and court, coaching a multitude of athletes. He’s worked with kids from Hilton to Greece playing sports like baseball, football and basketball. Curtis himself was a four-sport athlete in middle and high school, participating in basketball, football, baseball and tennis to boot! He even trained with Grand Slam Title winner and American professional tennis player, Arthur Ashe!

You might ask, where did Curtis’s love of sports begin? Being born in the Bronx, living 3 blocks away from Yankee stadium probably had a little something to do with it. He actually sold pretzels and had a souvenir cart outside the stadium for 3 years. He claims he was destined to be a Yankees fan as he played for the Colonial Park Yankees in Harlem as a little leaguer and joined the Willie Randolph (his all-time favorite Yankee), Bleacher Crew where he got free tickets to the games. Baseball and sports in general were in his blood at a very young age. He excelled in sports and was fortunate to be supported with scholarships for multiple educational programs throughout his high school career. In 1985 he began his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at SUNY Brockport, playing on the basketball team. He continued on at Brockport to receive his Master’s Degree in Education in 1992.

Curtis loved teaching so much, he married a teacher! His wife Lisbeth is a kindergarten teacher. They’ve been married almost 24 years and have raised two great kids. The athletic genes running strong in the Birthwright clan sent daughter, Karissa to the College of St. Rose where she plays basketball and son, Curtis Adam to Portsmouth Abbey School in Rhode Island to play hockey, both on athletic scholarship.

In January 2016, Curtis’s mother-in-law, Nancy passed away. Lisbeth’s mother lived with them for 15 years creating strong family ties to them all. Nancy’s funeral services were held here at Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home and at the request of his wife, Curtis spoke at the funeral. It was then that Curtis realized he had a special gift that he wanted to continue to share. He was compelled to bring comfort to those in their time of grief. Two weeks later he called Dave Perotto about volunteering. In return, Dave asked if he’d like to work as a Greeter/Funeral Assistant at the funeral home. Without skipping a beat, Curtis has been working as a Greeter and also as a Driver now for the past 2 ½ years for Bartolomeo & Perotto and with our sister funeral homes, Walker Brothers Funeral Home in Spencerport and Churchville.

Who knew a young boy from the Bronx selling pretzels and souvenirs would end up in Rochester, NY as a Funeral Assistant? Yet he’s just the kind of person we embrace at our funeral homes. It just goes to show you that you really don’t know where your life journey will take you. Thanks for sharing your smiles Curtis!

 

Related Links

Arthur Ashe Biography

https://www.biography.com/people/arthur-ashe-9190544

Yankees Willie Randolph

https://www.mlb.com/news/willie-randolph-a-legend-in-new-york-city/c-212173538

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