Seaman Second Class Arthur Dwight Curfman
- Unit: Naval Auxiliary Reserve, Ninth Naval District
- Date of Birth: October 18, 1896
- Entered the Military: July 3, 1918
- Date of Death: June 22, 1974
- Hometown: Glouster, Ohio
- Cemetery: Mausoleum, East Wing, Tier 3. Otterbein Cemetery, Westerville, Ohio
Licking Heights High School
On October 14, 1896, Arthur Dwight Curfman was born in Glouster, Ohio in Athens County to Vinton and Sylvia. He graduated from Glouster High School in 1914 and enrolled in the school of journalism at The Ohio State University (OSU).
While at OSU, Curfman was active on campus. He was the business manager of the Lantern, the campus newspaper, a staff member of the Makio, the yearbook, and a violinist in the university orchestra. Curfman also served as the secretary for the Pan-Hellenic Council and was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, a journalism fraternity, and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. Curfman graduated in May 1918 and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Curfman was a seaman second class in the U.S. Navy. Although he enlisted in July 1918, he was not called into service until October. Curfman was sent to the Naval Auxiliary Reserve School, stationed at the Municipal Pier in Chicago, Illinois. This was part of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, which was authorized by Congress in 1904 and opened in 1911. Great Lakes was established to train men with officer-like qualities and prepare them for future naval training.
Originally designed to accommodate 1,500 recruits, Great Lakes expanded greatly during World War I. By October 1917, over 13,000 recruits received instruction there. When Curfman arrived in October 1918, he was trained in signals, buoyage systems, and navigation systems. He was still stationed there when World War I ended in November. Curfman was discharged from active duty on December 23, 1918 but remained at the Naval Auxiliary Reserve School until January 1919.
Upon his return to Ohio, Curfman began a successful career in journalism. Curfman worked in advertising at B.F. Goodrich and as an advertising manager for the Akron Daily News. He married Ruth White on August 2, 1919 and she gave birth to their first son, Arthur Dwight, “Bud” Jr., in 1920.
In 1922, the family moved to Westerville, Ohio where their second son, Robert, was born in 1924. Curfman purchased the weekly newspaper, the Public Opinion, with a former OSU classmate, Ray W. Gifford. Gifford served as the editor and Curfman was the business manager. Together they ran the paper for 25 years.
The First Movie Theater in Town
Curfman further contributed to the city of Westerville by opening the first movie theater. The State Theatre, named after the street it was located on, opened in October 1927 and began showing silent films. The first film to be shown at the theater was Now We’re in the Air starring Wallace Beery and Raymond Hatton.
Curfman ran the State Theatre with his son, Bud, until his death in 1974. Bud continued operating the theater until 1975 when it closed due to increased competition from chain theaters. The marquee of the theater still remains as a strong visual landmark on the main street of uptown Westerville.
The Curfman family experienced hardship during World War II when Robert was killed in action. Robert participated in the Normandy invasion and received the Purple Heart after being wounded in August 1944. He returned to combat in Germany and was killed in February 1945.
Throughout his life, Curfman was dedicated to his work and his town. He died on June 22, 1974, survived by his son Bud and four granddaughters. Arthur Dwight Curfman is buried near his son, Robert Curfman, at the Otterbein Cemetery Mausoleum in Westerville, Ohio.
Arthur Curfman, Marriage License. Ohio, County Marriage Records, 1774–1993. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Arthur Curfman, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Navy, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, RG 24, National Archives and Records Administration — St. Louis.
Arthur Curfman, World War I Draft Registration Cards. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917–1918. Digital Images. ancestry.com.
Bezbatchenko, Mary. Otterbein Cemetery Mausoleum. Photograph. December 2018.
Black and white photograph of A. Dwight Curfman, Sr. Photograph. 1959. Westerville Ohio Local History Photograph Collection (1959 M). http://search.westervillelibrary.org/iii/cpro/DigitalItemViewPage.external?lang=eng&sp=1016123&sp=T&sp=Pall%2CRu1000001%40%2CQcurfman&suite=def.
Black and white photograph of Curfman home on W. Broadway. Photograph. Westerville Ohio Local History Photograph Collection (376 S). http://search.westervillelibrary.org/iii/cpro/DigitalItemViewPage.external?lang=eng&sp=1015877&sp=T&sp=Pall%2CRu1000001%40%2CQcurfman&suite=def.
Headquarters Training Regiment; Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library; Logistics File 1916–1920, Record Group 45 E-522 (Box 93); National Archives and Records Administration.
Notes on Great Lakes Training Station, October 19, 1917; Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library; Logistics File 1916–1920, Record Group 45 E-522 (Box 92); National Archives and Records Administration.
Ohio. Franklin County. 1930 U.S. Census. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.
Ohio. Franklin County. 1940 U.S. Census. Digital Images. http://ancestry.com.
Oral History Interview with Bud Curfman. 1992. C99001, Westerville Ohio Local History Collection.
“Orchestra” The Makio (1916). The Ohio State University. http://edu.arcasearch.com/usohosy/.
Public Opinion. “Bob Curfman Comes Home.” October 30, 1947.
Public Opinion. “Former Publisher Dies.” June 27, 1974.
Radio School at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago, Illinois. Photograph. February 19, 1919. National Archives and Records Administration (165-WW-341A-031-ac). Image.
Sailors Parade in Chicago, IL. Sailors from Great Lakes Naval Training Station parading on Michigan Ave. Photograph. January 1919. National Archives and Records Administration (165-WW-81A-17). Image.
“Sigma Delta Chi” The Makio (1918). The Ohio State University. http://edu.arcasearch.com/usohosy/.
The Ohio State Lantern. 1918. The Ohio State University. http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/APA/Ohio/#panel=home.
Training for Men for Armed Guard School, April 15, 1918; Records Collection of the Office of Naval Records and Library; Logistics File 1916–1920, Record Group 45 E-522 (Box 92); National Archives and Records Administration.
Your Movie Guide: State Theatre: Westerville, 1959. Westerville Ohio Local History Collection (T05027).