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Curtis B. Stuckey

Aug. 10, 2021

Curtis B. Stuckey, a civil rights attorney and a crusader for justice in East Texas, passed from this world Tuesday, August 10, 2021, in Nacogdoches, Texas, after a long illness.

Mr. Stuckey was born May 27, 1946, in Vincennes, Indiana, to parents Hoyt and Dorothy Stuckey; he was the second oldest of three brothers and grew up on a farm in Monroe City, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University Bloomington (1967), served in the Peace Corps in Venezuela (1967-1969), and then attended Law School at Indiana University Bloomington.

In 1975, while teaching at the University of Tennessee College of Law, Curtis met law student Brenda Willett, who would later become his wife. The two were smitten at first sight but ultimately fell in love with each other’s mind, big heart, and shared view of the world. The young couple moved to Texas in 1980. They raised two children and lots of tomato plants together.

Stuckey had an esteemed career as a civil rights lawyer, often representing the underdogs and the marginalized. In 1975, he won the class action suit in Kentucky (Kendall v. True) that struck down a law permitting people to be involuntarily committed to mental hospitals without evidence they were a danger to anyone; patients previously held against their will were released in droves. Later, in Texas, Stuckey had the first jury trial victory related to the Fair Housing Act in East Texas, more than a decade after LBJ signed the law banning discrimination against people buying and renting homes.

In 1982, Stuckey hung up a shingle and founded the civil rights firm now called Stuckey & Garrigan. Mr. Stuckey earned a reputation for representing people whose rights had been violated by the police (often in cases of excessive force), who suffered unconstitutional conditions in the prison system, and who were discriminated against because of race. His lawsuits forced change. Many of them also tackled novel legal issues, and the reported decisions have been cited hundreds of times by the courts.

Outside of the courtroom, Curtis added levity to any room he entered. He made up silly songs, coached little league basketball, played spectacular peek-a-boo, and sent fruit baskets a plenty. He loved being a part of Austin Heights Baptist Church. Curt would have wanted you to know that he once beat his assistant Toni in a foot race and beat his law partner Tim driving back from Tyler (though Tim didn’t know it was a race).

In 2014, Stuckey developed a brain disorder that necessitated his retirement. He enjoyed more time to watch ball games (Hoosiers, Pacers, and Cardinals), to rewatch black and white movies, and to go out to lunch with people on their designated day of the week. He telephoned numerous friends and family daily, often announcing he was “just givin’ you a buzz to enjoy a brief exchange of pleasantries!” and reminding us all that we are “good, good, good.”

Curtis will be remembered as a civil rights warrior, a goofball, a loyal friend, an accepting spirit, a devoted husband, and a supportive dad and uncle. His legacy is kindness, encouragement, and connection. May we all be as willing as Curtis to face our personal and societal shortcomings, to right the wrongs we see in this world, and to love others boldly as God calls us to do.

Surviving Family

Mr. Stuckey is survived by his wife Brenda Willett Stuckey of Nacogdoches, TX and their adult children Joshua Chattin Stuckey (Rooskie) of Nacogdoches, TX and Ginny Wills Stuckey (Triple P) of Austin, TX; his older brother Ken (Brucey) and wife Marilyn of Lynchburg, VA and younger brother Brent and wife Becky of Vincennes, IN; brothers-in-law Davy Willett of TN and Steve Willett of OH; many nieces and nephews of Indiana, Virginia, Idaho, Tennessee, and Ohio — Julie, Chris, Sarah, Zach, Katie, Maggie, Matt, Laura, Kevin, Aaron, Michael, Diane, Billy, Bobby, Janet, Patty, Jeanie, Judy, Gary, Cathy, Donna, Don Jr., and Freddy; as well as many grandnieces and grandnephews including Olivia, Joel, Anna, Abby, Jackson, Ava, Bennie, Becca, Joey, Ellie, and Leo. Mr. Stuckey was preceded in death by his parents, Hoyt and Dorothy Stuckey, by his mother-in-law Ruby Willett, and by his good friends John Heath (Big John) and Dr. Bob Carroll (Doc).

The Service and Support

Time: Friday August 20th at 10:00 am

Honorary pallbearers are: Tim Ammons (House), Tim Garrigan (Bo) and Denise McDonald (Farmstress), Paul Furrh (Perch), Jane Swanson, William Schuetze (Shoompsky), Graham Cook, Larry Mealer (Green Vomit), John Heath Jr. (Little John), the Honorable Judith Guthrie, Luis and Veronica Baca, Kurt Berggren, Reuben Rigal, and John Black (Black John). Pastor Kyle Childress of Austin Heights Baptist Church will officiate.

Arrangements are being handled by Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Home. If you wish to honor Curt, consider donating to Austin Heights Baptist Church or Habitat for Humanity. The family hopes to hold an in-person celebration of life when the local Covid situation permits. At this time, the family would most love for you to share your memories and stories of Curtis on his tribute page: https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/nacogdoches-tx/curtis-stuckey-10303700.

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