Curtis Ray Cloward passed away peacefully on February 17th, 2020, in Austin, Texas, surrounded by support and love at the age of 67.
Curtis was born on December 11th, 1952, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Howard and Ardella Cloward. He was the baby of his family and was adored by his two older brothers Sherman and Kenneth, and older sister Loraine (Bourne). He enjoyed what he described as an idyllic childhood in Kaysville, Utah, where he rode horses, got into trouble, worked at his father’s gas and service station, and later at his parent’s motel, the only motel between Salt Lake City and Ogden at the time.
He graduated from Davis High School in 1971 and completed a religious mission to Italy in 1974. He loved the Italian culture, spoke the language fluently, and later used his musical talents to write an Italian lullaby his children cherish, called “Dormi.”
He met the mother of his children, Rea Jo Whicker Walton, at age 12. They became the best of friends and were married in 1975. They endured significant trials together, but created a family of five children and maintained a friendship and even a love through the years.
Curtis had known he was gay since childhood, but tried to hide, suppress, and change himself to fit society. Eventually, the strain was too much and he set off to find his own path while still loving his family immensely. After various jobs, he eventually became certified as a Court Reporter, moved to the DC area, and built a new life where he could be himself without caveat. His story is a testament to the difficulties we create when dogma requires us to hate who we are. He rose above that and showed us the wonders we can create when we quiet what we “know” long enough to see the beauty within.
He considered his children his greatest accomplishment. After their own journeys they each grew to not only accept him for who he was, but to celebrate his life and be grateful he gave them more freedom to think differently. When a surgery on his hand made it impossible for him to type for hours as a Court Reporter, he moved to Texas to be closer to some of his children. In his final years, he worked with his sons and daughter, Marinne, as the voice of Austin Brothers Fence Company, answering the main phone line and always managing to change the script to bring a moment of humor and humanity to otherwise mundane transactions.
Dad was incredibly playful, tenacious, and strong. He had a penchant for the shocking and loved to recount stories of horrific court cases in eloquent detail for the simple pleasure of your reaction. He loved language. In court, he transcribed every word said by anyone in the room—people from all over the world with vocabulary highly specific to their field—and he collected the most complex and unintelligible of words so he could, again, see your expression when he used them in casual conversation. You could say he was the opposite of a floccinaucinihilipilificatrix when it came to the nuance of language. He found humor in the absurd, the witty, and the inappropriate, and loved to banter and argue for fun.
He loved all things artistic and creative, and was an amazing interior decorator and vocalist. When he was 18, he was chosen to join the All American Chorale in their singing tour around Europe. He continued to perform throughout his life in school, community events, the “Gay Men’s Choir”, and other places, projecting the same deep and beautiful voice heard in his booming laugh each time he visited.
Many things tried to claim dad’s life, over the years including HIV, an aneurysm which eventually required 33 platinum coils to be installed in his brain, and a small internal form of cancer that required regular checkups. With each, he danced with death and won. With time we took his recovery for granted, but any of these could easily have stolen years of healing and reconciliation. We’ll miss him sorely and wish he had a grandchild on his knee right now, passing down his childhood stories or his unique games (robot chair, tickle torture, “pinchy,” and so many more), but we’re so grateful for the time we had. What took him, in the end, was a small spot on his back, left untended for too long, which refused to leave and eventually found a home in his lungs.
He is survived by his children: Mikelle (Danny) Cloward Guth, Marinne (David) Cloward, Emily Cloward, Nathan (Brooke) Austin, and Jefferson (Britney) Cloward; 12 grandchildren who he absolutely adored and spent as much time with as he could; his brother Sherman (Connie) Cloward; sister Loraine (Richard) Bourne; sister-in-law Reta (Kenneth) Cloward; and a large extended family of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his loving parents, Howard and Ardella (Burraston) Cloward, and his brother, Kenneth.
We love you, dad, and are honored to carry your gifts in our hearts, to give to those we love. Dormi tranquillo, caro papá. Ti vogliamo bene.
When the current health crisis passes, we’ll hold a proper memorial in Utah, be that in a few months or as soon as it is safe to gather and travel. We’ll hold a virtual memorial service soon. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to be updated about the date and time.
Handlebar mustache, like Pennybags,
top hat, penguin tuxedo, horse and carriage, the mountains frosted white, see the air with each breath, the magical sound of music, without distractions, my childhood remembered, with you, Dear Dad.
Dad was very proud of his participation in the Gay Mormon Stories podcast. Take a moment and listen to his story here:
- Survived By
- Mikelle Cloward Guth, Daughter
- Marinne Cloward, Daughter
- Emily Cloward, Daughter
- Nathan Austin, Son
- Jefferson Cloward, Son
- Anna Chart, Granddaughter
- Abriana Chart, Granddaughter
- Kayden Guth, Grandson
- Kelden Guth, Grandson
- Townes Gardner, Grandson
- Lillie Gardner, Granddaughter
- Celeste Maines, Granddaughter
- Tai Austin, Granddaughter
- Van Austin, Grandson
- Jane Cloward, Granddaughter
- Dawn Cloward, Granddaughter
- Bailey Magneson, Granddaughter
- Sherm Cloward, Brother
- Loraine Bourne, Sister
- Preceded in Death By
- Ken Cloward, Brother
- Howard L. Cloward, Father
- Ardella Cloward, Mother
Life Story Info
Cause of Death
Curtis was one one of my favorite people! I met him in 8th grade and we became good friends. He would ride his horse to my house and take me for rides. He was funny, kind, interesting and completely nonjudgmental. I was the new girl with the Texas accent. I was not Mormon, I was different and Curtis made me feel welcomed. He kept in touch with me over the years, wishing me happy birthday, commenting on my Facebook posts, and always leaving me with a big smile and fond memories. Curtis made the world a better place and this tribute is beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your love with us! Gala
Dec 11, 1952
Curtis was the baby of the family and grew up as the only child in the household, as his older siblings (Sherm, Ken, and Loraine) had already moved out.
Married Rea Jo Whicker
Nov 21, 1976
First Daughter, Mikelle, Born
Mar 13, 1978
Second Daughter, Marinne, Born
Aug 17, 1979
Third Daughter, Emily Jo, Born
His Three Girls
Aug 21, 1983
First Son, Nathan Curtis, Born
Jul 22, 1986
Second Son, Jefferson, Born