TCR/Kristin Burdey
The Rev. Curtis Fox has experienced 61 years of ministry.
TCR/Kristin Burdey The Rev. Curtis Fox has experienced 61 years of ministry.
Last week, the world celebrated the life of “America’s Pastor,” the Rev. Billy Graham, universally regarded as a good man and a great preacher. I was excited when an opportunity arose to speak to a similar man from our community: Pastor Curtis Fox.

Curtis Fox was born in Minneapolis in 1930. His father had a steady job at the old streetcar company, which provided for the family during those tough economic times. When Curtis was 12, he was

old enough for a paper route, which he shared with his older brother for around five years, advancing to being a shack manager and responsible for 15 to 20 carriers beneath him. After Fox’s younger sister was born, the family moved to a bigger house in a new part of town, but still on his paper route.

While his father provided for the family’s physical needs, his mother was the spiritual “heartbeat of the home,” according to Curtis. Mrs. Fox spoke her faith boldly in the home, praying aloud for each child by name, and leading the family in Bible reading and prayer.

Pastor Fox said that when he was confirmed at age 14, he was very earnest and serious that Jesus be number one in his life, but that commitment slipped a bit while he was in high school. After graduating from Roosevelt High School he sought work, but Curtis had a friend who invited him to attend Bible camp with him. He accepted, thinking it would be fun; there would be ball to play and such. But while at camp, Curtis said that “the Spirit of God touched my life” and he soon enrolled in the Lutheran Bible Institute. The road was not easy. In addition to a part-time job at the National Tea Store, he was faced with obtaining a four-year college degree and four years of seminary. Fox said at times it seemed like climbing Mt. Everest.

It was during his time at the LBI that he met a young lady from rural Peterson named Doris Boyum. They had one date in 1949, but not another until Fox’s senior year in college. Curtis needed a date for an event, and found that Doris was still unattached. The two were steady dates from there, though they‘d enjoyed half a dozen dates before Curtis got up the nerve to ask, “May I kiss you good night?” They were engaged on Doris’s 23rd birthday, and married June 5, 1954, at Arendahl Church.

The newlyweds moved to Rock Island, Illinois, while Curtis attended seminary, and worked at the International Harvester plant during the summer. Fox eventually transferred from the Swedish seminary to the Norwegian seminary in St. Paul, then took on an internship at Norwegian Lutheran Church in St. Cloud, where he was in charge of the youth, preached once a month, made calls and taught classes at the St. Cloud prison and reformatory.

In 1957 Fox took on his first parish in the cattle country of Philip, South Dakota, a little town between Pierre and Rapid City, where he tended to three parishes. In 1960 the Foxes moved to Hanska, Minnesota, where the young preacher also became the starting pitcher on the town baseball team. Fox had quite the arm and was drafted as a pitcher by teams that reached a pair of state tourneys. Fox’s love of ball has stood the test of time; he pitched for Rushford Lutheran Church in a game last summer and he was honored when a member of the opposing team, who was his catcher on the Hanska team, pulled him aside and thanked him for being his pastor.

While preaching in Hanska, the young Pastor Fox took a busload of students to the State Fairgrounds to listen to Billy Graham preach. The students enjoyed the famed evangelist and could see that he was a man of God. Curtis gave Graham an A+, and commended his preaching as solid.

Over the following decades, Curtis preached as far as Idaho and Washington, where he helped a struggling church back to its feet. The Foxes returned to Minnesota in 2000, where at the age of 70 they were in a position to at least “be more serious about retirement.” Fox has been an interim pastor at Fountain, Root Prairie, Burr Oak, Hesper, Mabel, Looney Valley and Wangen Prairie. While he’s been idle for two years Curtis would welcome the opportunity still today!

In 2016, Doris went on ahead to heaven, and Curtis has felt a big gap in his life. She was 100 percent his partner in church work and life, and Fox described her as “as good as they get; the best of the best.” The Foxes’ five children are scattered across the globe; Curtis just returned from visiting a son in Ecuador. Daughter Becky Stocker lives with her husband, Eric, on the home farm where Doris grew up.

I have gotten to know Curtis both through the church and the café, where his grandson Greyson worked, becoming one of our favorite people ever. When asked to reflect on his 61 years (and counting) of ministry, he responded as a man who appreciates both the responsibility and the privilege that it is to work for the Lord. He replied with genuine humility, that he has felt honored to spend over 60 years as a trusted pastor: “I am humbled to have been blessed with the wife, the family, and the churches that I’ve been given. If I live to be 100, I’d hope for the opportunity to keep preaching the good news of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.”

I have come to realize that Pastor Fox is truly a good man; the kind of man that our troubled world needs more of today. “I have certainly seen God at work. God is not dead,” Curtis says, with a smile in his eyes. “He is alive and well.”