Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, June 15, 1997, pg. 16

Have you ever wondered how many persons who were born and raised in Albion went on to play professional, national sports? We’ve had people who came here to live later play for professional teams such as the Detroit Tigers or the Chicago Cubs and others, but they weren’t "home grown." I can think of only a couple of persons in this elite category. One of them paid a visit back to his home town recently, and I had the honor to interview him.

Ulysses Curtis was born here in Albion in 1926. His parents, Will and Frances (Hall) Curtis, came to Albion in 1922 from Jeffersonville, Georgia, and Will secured a job at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The family lived at 1013 North Albion Street. A World War I veteran, Will suffered a bout of pneumonia in 1930 and died here. A local American Legion post was named for him, being the first black World War I veteran to die locally.

Ulysses attended the Albion Public Schools, and while in high school was active in basketball. He graduated from Albion High School in 1944. Drafted into the Navy following graduation, he served our country from 1944 to 1946.

Following his tour of duty, Ulysses moved to Florida to attend Florida A & M University in Tallahassee where his brother Tom was attending and playing football. Tom encouraged Ulysses to try out for the football team, which he did. Ulysses learned the game very quickly, so quickly in fact that he was named "All American" for the years 1947 and 1948. All this from a 1946 "walk on" who had never played football before.

While in Tallahassee, he met his lovely wife Catherine whom he married in 1949. Upon graduation from College, Ulysses was offered a position with the Toronto Argonauts, a professional Canadian football team. Ulysses was a running back, and with his help the Argonauts earned two national championships in 1950 and 1952. Ulysses received various awards and recognition for his accomplishments with the team.

By the way, Canadian football is slightly different than here in the United States. There are only three downs instead of four; twelve men are on the field (legally), and the field is bigger.

Ulysses Curtis retired from professional football in 1954. He subsequently taught school in Toronto for over 30 years, and retired in 1990. He recently came to Albion with his brother Dr. James Curtis of New York, and met with his brother Tom (who lives here locally) where together they placed flowers on the graves of their parents in Riverside Cemetery.

From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the three brothers, Ulysses, Tom, and James, at the gravesite of their father, and a close-up photo of Ulysses and his football championship ring.

Ulysses, Tom, and James Curtis, at gravesite

Ulysses Curtis and detail of ring


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