Curtis Sollohub Retired Professor of Computer Science Presently doing what I can for peace and justice around the world These words were appended to Curtis’ email messages from his retirement until the time of his death from cancer on Dec. 23, 2013, at his home near Las Vegas, New Mexico. These ambitions were realized through his continuing work in Palestine, Turkey, Washington, DC, and the Las Vegas community. The celebration of his life drew forth many testimonies to his dedication, intellectual rigor, commitment to social justice, and accomplishments.
Curtis John Sollohub was born in El Paso, Texas, on June 1, 1947, to Raymond John Sollohub and Josephine Forman Sollohub. At age 18 Curtis entered a Catholic seminary, was told to leave after ﬁve years, and then gained re-admission, earning a Master's degree in counseling psychology at California State University, Hayward, and teaching high school in Oakland, Calif. Curtis asked to be released from his vows just months before his scheduled ordination as a priest. He married Ishwari Immel in Oakland, California in 1981 and earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science at San Francisco State University. Their ﬁrst daughter, Tekla, was born in 1983, while he worked in the computer industry. In 1987 the family moved to Las Vegas, NM, where Curtis joined the Computer Science Department of New Mexico Highlands University, rising through the ranks to become a tenured professor. Curtis and Ishwari welcomed their second daughter, Sierra, during this period. Soon after arriving in Las Vegas, Curtis became a member of the Religious Society of Friends, with membership in Santa Fe Monthly Meeting. For the rest of his life he functioned as the clerk of the Las Vegas Worship Group.
At New Mexico Highlands University, Curtis was devoted to his discipline while advocating for workplace fairness. He helped establish Highlands' Media Arts Program, was instrumental in forming a faculty union, and served as its president. His strong sense of community and justice was manifested in many other ways in Las Vegas. He worked with the Las Vegas Committee for Peace and Justice, the Las Vegas Center for Peace and Justice, Community Peace Radio, and Amnesty International. His greatest commitments, however, were to the local afﬁlliate of Habitat for Humanity, of which he was president at the time of his death, and to the issue of preserving water rights, a longstanding concern in northern New Mexico as a necessity for small scale agriculture and the vitality of local communities. He served as president of the Acequia Madre de Los Vigiles and a vice-president of the Rio de Las Gallinas Acequia Association. In that capacity he was engaged in protracted negotiations with the City of Las Vegas to ﬁnd an equitable solution to competing claims for water.
Curtis’ international interests were focused on Turkey and Palestine. While he was in seminary, his family lived in Istanbul, and he visited them during his long vacations. He made several visits to Palestine, including a time teaching computer science to women. His trips to Turkey gave him a jumping-off point for his formative year-and-a-day hitchhiking journey of discovery and self-discovery from Turkey through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, igniting his deep and lasting interests in the Islamic world. He later spent a sabbatical year teaching in the United Arab Emirates. In the years before his death, Curtis was working on a book based on conversations with people in the West Bank and Gaza about their lives under Israeli occupation. On the national and regional scene, he served a term as New Mexico representative to the general committee of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.
He had taken on responsibilities with Intermountain Yearly Meeting, including helping with Junior Yearly meeting’s campouts and organizing a session exploring different views on immigration. He was hoping to become ever more involved in the life of IMYM. Among Curtis’ other interests were cycling, hiking, skiing, back-country camping, and taking long road trips to visit his two daughters. In 2011, after having lived alone for a long time after his divorce, Curtis met Martha McCabe of San Antonio, Texas, a writer and retired lawyer. They shared many interests and spent much time together, especially after the diagnosis of his cancer in May, 2013. They were married at his home, after the manner of Friends, the day before his death. At the end, he passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family and friends.
Curtis is survived by his ﬁrst wife, Ishwari Sollohub of Santa Fe, daughters, Tekla Currie of Rock Spring, GA and Sierra Sollohub of Chapel Hill, NC, his wife Martha McCabe of San Antonio, sisters Jody Wilbert, Deborah Sollohub and Cathy Sollohub, and three grandchildren. The front-page article in the local paper announcing his death headlined him as an “organizer”. That was perhaps his most public attribute, but he was also caring and thoughtful, insisting on careful analysis of actions, that they might achieve worthwhile goals. A deep and introspective thinker, he also loved to have fun, and often indulged in a slightly mischievous sense of humor. He was valued and loved by many, for a variety of reasons. He is greatly missed.