Mike Curley, Mine Manager
The article below, the obituary of Mike Curley after whom Curley School was named, is reprinted from the July 26, 1945, issue of the Ajo Copper News.
M. "Mike" Curley, Former Manager of Ajo Mine, Dies in California
Michael ("Mike") Curley, beloved and highly capable first mine manager of the Ajo open-pit copper mine and plant known as Phelps Dodge Corporation, New Cornelia Branch, passed away Friday, July 13, in the hospital in Santa Monica, CA, after about one year of illness.
Very beautiful and impressive services were held, which included the Rosary Services at the Memorial Chapel in Santa Monica, on Monday, July 16, and the funeral services with Requiem High Mass were conducted by Rev. J. Cassimir from St. Peter's Catholic Church at Beverly Hills on Tuesday, July 17.
Interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery in Los Angeles vicinity.
Active pallbearers were L. M. Barker, A. T. Barr, F. L. Adams, S. W. Penn, H. D. Atwood, all of Ajo, and James P. Gaskill of Los Angeles.
The following were honorary pallbearers: P. G. Beckett, H. M. Lavender, C. R. Kuzell, all of Douglas, AZ.; C. T. Knapp, J. P. Boyle, B. G. Thompson, B. J. O'Neill, H. A. Nelson, J. B. Mead, Edgar Goyette, all of Tucson; J. J. A. Carney, W. R. Denison, H. H. Angst, E. G. Lewis, E. G. Rawlins, John Cameron, E. A. Diehl, H. Cunningham, Emil Zitlau, C. S. Brown, Joe Kapp, Renwick White, J. D. Williams, Harry Kliban, Martin M. Sandretto, R. E. Harmon, all of Ajo; Webster Wicks, Leland H. Platt, Jack Supancich, all of Los Angeles; A. W. Liddell of Bisbee; W. D. Gooch of Cananea, Mexico; F. W. Maclennan of New York City; Robert W. Thomas of Ray, AZ; T. H. O'Brien of Inspiration, AZ' W. L. DuMoulin of Silver City, NM; and O. B. Patton of Huntsville, Alabama.
Memorial services were held at the same time at 10 o'clock Tuesday morning at the Catholic Church in Ajo, for those unable to attend in California.
Surviving Mr. Curley are his wife Phyllis, and two daughters Muriel, and Mrs. Lee Platt (Phyllis).
-- --(Editorial Note)
We are indebted to the Tucson Star for the following good and condensed story of the life and activities of "Mike" Curley appearing in that paper July 14. However, "Mike" Curley, we believe, had no middle name or initial. At any rate, while in Ajo he was officially just "M. Curley".
-- --The story:
Michael J. Curley, 71, the man who with the late Gen. John C. Greenway, developed the New Cornelia mine and the model mining camp of Ajo from a scattered number of small claims into the great copper producer it is today, died last night in the hospital at Santa Monica, California. That state having been his home since his retirement from the active post of manager of the New Cornelia in December, 1939.
Mr. Curley, a native of Ireland, who started his working life in Negaunee, Michigan, as an employee of the Chicago and Northwestern Railway Co., left there for Coleraine, Minn., when that town was in its infancy. He went to work in the mine office there, but soon turned to active mining.
Mr. Curley came to Arizona in 1913 when General Greenway, then manager of the Calumet and Arizona Mining Co., envisioned the Ajo project and offered him the management of the job. Ajo was then a small group of copper diggings. With Greenway, Mr. Curley worked out the plans for its development into the huge, open pit project it is today. He was a party to the initial systematic drilling survey which outlined a body of 12,000,000 tons of carbonate ore and 28,000,000 tons of sulphide ore. It was under Mr. Curley's direction that the unique underground well, wherein a complete pumping plant was set up 600 feet underground, was installed to develop water for the mine and the recovery process of the ore. It was 1916 before the railroad reached Ajo, and the leaching plant, power plant and other facilities were ready for the first production of copper in 1917.
When General Greenway died in 1925 Mr. Curley became the executive manager of the New Cornelia property and operated it until his retirement at which time he was succeeded by C. B. Kuzel. During his tenure as manager the great mine turned out millions of dollars in copper for its stockholders.
Mr. Curley was widely known throughout the west and particularly in Pima County for his many community enterprises. He turned Ajo into a model mining camp and during the depression was actively engaged in maintaining its welfare organizations. When emergency aid was organized in Arizona he was a member of the first state board and was a member of the first Pima County Welfare Board.
His fame in his profession was based on his administrative ability and on his installation of the modern methods of extracting copper from the ores dipped up in the big pit at Ajo.
Following his retirement, Mr. Curley moved to Westwood, CA, with his wife and two daughters, Phyllis and Muriel, all of whom survive him.Ajo Copper News, July 26, 1945