August 14, 2017 at 8:34 pm
Longtime Republican lawmaker Aubyn Curtiss, who served in both the House and Senate of the Montana Legislature, died Aug. 9 at her home in Fortine. She was 92.
Curtiss was active in state politics well into her 80s. She took a keen interest in issues affecting her constituents in Lincoln County, such as the timber industry and access to public lands, and was a frequent contributor to the Inter Lake’s Opinion page. Two years ago she testified at a Senate judiciary hearing, opposing ratification of the tribal water compact.
Curtiss also kept in touch with Lincoln County residents by writing legislative reports published regularly in The Western News. She kept up that practice until 2010.
Lincoln County voters first elected Curtiss to the House of Representatives in 1976. She served through 1983, and again from 1995 to 2002. She was elected to represent Senate District 1 in November 2002 and took office in 2003, serving until 2011. State term limits disqualified her from seeking re-election.
Curtiss first got interested in politics in the early 1970s after she had a role in helping interview people who were displaced by the building of Libby Dam and Lake Koocanusa. It was those residents’ plight in the face of what she saw as a “taking by big government” that prompted her to run for office in 1971.
She was narrowly defeated but tried again for a House seat in 1976 and won. She told the Inter Lake in a profile for that election that her primary qualification for the state Legislature was “being a very concerned citizen, and proud of our country and the system on which it is founded.”
Through the years Curtiss also was involved in the Republican Party, serving as state chairwoman for a time.
Prior to getting involved in politics, she had been active in the Christmas tree business since 1957 and served as an officer for the Montana Christmas Tree Association. During World War II, she worked as a welder in the shipyards in Los Angeles, helping build the “Liberty” ships as part of the war effort.
"Instead of saving litigation claimed by proponents, this would result in hundreds of water users rights placed at risk," said Aubyn Curtiss in her testimony opposing the ratification of the CSKT Compact (SB 262). Curtiss served in the Montana State House from 1977 to 1983 and again from 1995 to 2002. She then was elected to the Montana State Senate in 2002, serving in that position through 2009.