Distinguished Alumnus
Class of 2015
Robert Curry

AHS Class of 1957

Robert “Bob” Duane Curry was born March 7, 1939, the son of John and Joy Curry. He attended all twelve years of school in Arcola, graduating from high school in 1957. While at Arcola High School, Bob participated in football and track, and was a member of the Torch staff, Lettermen’s, Industrial Arts and Camera Clubs. During high school, he also worked for his dad, owner of Arcola Electric, apprenticing in electricity and plumbing.

Bob attended Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky, being the first in his family to attend a four-year institution of higher learning. In 1961, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology and a teaching degree in Industrial Arts. While in college, he was a member of the Pershing Rifles military fraternity and a Staff Sergeant in the R.O.T.C., receiving awards for High Marksmanship, Drill Team, and Color Guard.

For two years after college, Bob taught Industrial Arts at consolidated schools in Royalton and Zeigler, Illinois. He supplemented his income by coaching boys’ basketball, baseball, and track – and driving a school bus.

In 1963, Bob began working at Union Iron Works in Decatur, Illinois, selling materials handling equipment. In a short time he advanced to Vice-President of Sales, and then Executive Vice-President of the company.

After a corporate buyout in 1981, Curry left Union Iron Works to start his own company, Curry Equipment Sales, Inc. He was the only employee. Through determination, courage and faith, his company was successful as one that valued honesty and integrity.

Within two years, Union Iron Works was up for sale and Bob was in a position to purchase the company where he had previously been employed. As his customer base began to grow, he continually reinvested profits to expand product lines and hire quality people. In 1983, his son, Robert, Jr., joined his business.

In 2007, Curry and his son sold Union Iron Works, Inc. to Ag Growth of Winnipeg, Canada. Today, Union Iron Works retains its corporate offices and manufacturing in Decatur, Illinois, where it has become a fifty million dollar company with over 200 employees.

Curry’s technical articles have been published in Grain Journal, Grain Age and various trade magazines. He has been granted several patents for equipment designs in the materials handling field.

Bob has been active in the Decatur community, volunteering with the Dove program and the Good Samaritan Inn. His company donated buildings and land to the Robertson Charter School in Decatur, and to the Christians in Mission and Ministry program. Curry’s wife, Judy, is a United Methodist minister. He was often her “assistant”, serving her churches and communities, and often mentoring the young men of the congregations.

Curry was a charter member and officer of the Illinois Corn Belt Chapter of Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) for many years, and was a member of Economic Development for the State of Illinois in Chicago. He also served as member of the US/China Trade Council, headquartered in Washington, D.C. At that time, future President George Bush, Sr. was head of the council and the unofficial U.S. ambassador to China before diplomatic relations were recognized between the two countries. Bob was issued one of the first visa invitations to present technical information to China.

The Currys are retired and live in Decatur, Illinois. They are parents of five children, Teresa, Robert W., Lori, Kelly and Deanne; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Bob enjoys coin collecting, woodturning, attending art shows to discover collectable pieces and his new adventure in cooking.

Curry credits much of his life’s success to his father, who was an inspiration to him as a man who valued hard work, and ran a business of his own that remains in the family today. Bob passes along one of life’s lessons: All wisdom comes from God and he who prays for wisdom will receive it.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017