MISSOULA — Dr. Robert Curry, or "Doc,"as most people know him, will receive the University of Montana's Grizzly Lifetime Honors Award during the Nov. 15 Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame induction.
Curry served as the director of UM's Student Health Service from 1965-90. You can still see him roaming the sidelines of UM sporting events cheering for the Griz.
MTN's Jack Ginsburg sat down with the longtime physician in our latest Sunday Conversation.
Montana Sports: When you got that phone call, what went through your mind?
Curry: "Well when I was called I was out in the yard and my wife came out and said, 'Kent Haslam is calling,' I said, 'Oh, what have I done now?' So I came in and talked to Kent and he said, 'You’ve been selected.' I was totally blown away. It was very humbling, it was quite an honor. It’s a hard thing to process. Since I heard back in the summer, it’s just been quite an honor and I respect the University of Montana and the athletic department and it’s been quite a run.”
Montana Sports: Do you hear a lot of congratulations when you’re down on the sideline at Griz games or just around town?
Curry: “Unfortunately or fortunately, whichever. The electronics seemed to have floated around that a lot of people are aware of my honor and so it’s been very, very gratifying.”
Montana Sports: Can you touch on how much the outdoors played a part in you coming to Montana?
Curry: “Well obviously I wanted to come where I could hunt, fish and have open space. I trained in Indiana, (had an) internship in St. Paul, Minn., and just kept coming west and ended up in Missoula.”
Montana Sports: When you first got to Missoula, what was the university and the town like?
Curry: “It was smaller. Missoula was very much smaller and it has grown amazingly, in all directions. It’s been an amazing thing to see it develop and continue to grow. It’s going to continue to grow.”
Montana Sports: What do you think of when you think back on the best memories you had in your time at the University of Montana?
Curry: “Obviously when you are with the university for a long period of time, you get to know a lot of the faculty and staff. Great relationships with essentially everybody at the university. I’ve gone through many presidents and I’ve gone through many coaches, and it’s been a real privilege for me to be able to work with these folks and have a good relationship with them. The students, that’s what it’s all about.”
Montana Sports: You’ve seen a lot of successes and failures, what are some of the best sports moments you can recall?
Curry: “Obviously, Don Read’s teams began the tradition of winning. And the national titles with Joe Glenn the second time, Don Read the first. Those were really special, special times, and I would like to see another one roll around.”
Montana Sports: Are there any athletes that stick out to you in your time at UM?
Curry: “They are all special. I mean, look around. Many of them are here in town, many of them are out of town, they come back and we see them on the sidelines. Saw Wayne Harrington this last Saturday and several others folks. There are just many, many fine young men that have succeeded and done well after their athletic endeavors, and it just shows that sports do create character and success.”
Montana Sports: Thoughts on the Brawl of the Wild rivalry?
Curry: “The University of Montana No. 1, the Bobcats No. 2. But it’s all Montana, and if the Griz can’t win, then I’m going to cheer for the Cats. But obviously the Griz are first.”
Montana Sports: What are you most proud of that you accomplished in your career?
Curry: “I’m proud of the people I worked with. I had the best nurses, physicians, receptionists, the entire group from the simplest, the custodian engineering. The entire group were great and they did a wonderful job and their focus was on the student. Because the student was why they we were there. That was my most important thing in my life, was to take care of the student. Whether they were an athlete or non-athlete, it didn’t make a difference.”
Montana Sports: What excites you about the award?
Curry: “I’m not a very public person, I’m kind of a private guy. So it’s a little overwhelming for me to anticipate. I owe a lot of that to my family. They had to sacrifice a lot when I was gone weekends and games. So my wife, particularly, took care of the kids when they were younger and I would get home and she would have things in good order. So she’s my biggest supporter.”
Montana Sports: A lot of Griz programs are having success right now; what do you see on the sidelines and how much fun are you having watching them?
Curry: “It’s always a pleasure to be around these youngsters. They are all men and women, but I called them kids, that’s just me. They are a great group to be around, I enjoy the camaraderie. I enjoy taking care of them because they don’t want to be injured, they don’t want to be sick. But when they are, we do the best we can to get them ready and we don’t let them play before they are ready, that’s the important thing.”
Montana Sports: What have you been up to in your free time?
Curry: “Well, I’m very busy taking care of my place. I heat with wood, so I do a lot of chainsawing and splitting wood, and I do it by hand. I don’t do it with machines. So I try to stay fit and be active and behave myself and try to stay out of trouble.”