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The Edmonton Journal
Monday, May 25, 1998

Popular lawyer remembered for his love of life


By Jen Ross
Although he had undergone four surgeries and couldn't walk properly after losing much of the feeling in his legs, Stephen says his father pushed himself because he believed so strongly in what he was doing.
"He'd take a dull and boring meeting and start the pot stirring with his sarcasm and humour," says Randy Langley, an associate with Parlee McLaws who knew Curran well.
"He died of it, yes," says Stephen. "But through his three-and-a-half-year fight, it never broke him. I'd say he beat the cancer because he kept his faith and his strength to the end."

Even in his final days, bedridden in hospital with terminal cancer, Paul Curran was still talking about getting home and taking a ride in his 1976 Corvette Stingray.

And he didn't mean as a passenger; he intended to drive it.

Wife Christine Curran fondly remembers her 54-year-old husband's love of fast cars and his unrelenting will to live.

Though she herself had fought and won the battle against breast cancer only two years earlier, she says she never had Paul's strength.

A popular lawyer, parishioner and community leader, Curran was a loving and dedicated husband and father of four.

He graduated from law school at the University of Ottawa in 1973 and left the country's capital for Edmonton in 1978 as a sort of adventure. His firm's partnership had just dissolved and his wife suggested making a fresh start out west.

It didn't take him long to fall in love with Edmonton.

Curran spent the next 20 years working for Parlee McLaws, first in family law and later in civil insurance litigation.

Friends and colleagues say he had high standards at work, which he also applied to his activities in the community, the church and politics.

He spent two years as vice-president of the Edmonton Mill Woods' Progressive Conservative Party and was awarded the party's Stellar Rayfield award for exceptional service.

Son Stephen, 22, says he witnessed his father's dedication, watching him as he limped around, door-knocking for the Mill Woods PC candidate during the provincial election last spring.

Although he had undergone four surgeries and couldn't walk properly after losing much of the feeling in his legs, Stephen says his father pushed himself because he believed so strongly in what he was doing.

"He always put in 110 per cent," says Stephen.

"Even though he was suffering immensely, he was the anchor in one of the scariest periods of our lives. ... He always gave his all to his family, his job and his community."

On Sundays, Curran would bring his energy to the pulpit of St. Theresa's Catholic Church. With a voice many referred to as brown velvet, he would intone the scriptures with son Stephen at his side.

He was a founding member of the Woodvale Community League and worked tirelessly for it. The fund- raisers he helped organize netted enough money for the league to set up a playschool, two playgrounds and a baseball league.

As vice-president of the league from 1987 until 1989, he succeeded in getting the Mill Woods Golf Course and clubhouse set up.

An avid golfer, Paul loved driving fast cars and playing with his dogs.

At the office, co-workers knew him as "the card" or "the joker" -- a master of one-liners who enjoyed playing practical jokes.

"He'd take a dull and boring meeting and start the pot stirring with his sarcasm and humour," says Randy Langley, an associate with Parlee McLaws who knew Curran well. "He'd lighten the moment, ease the tension at a serious meeting."

On April 14, 1998, the man who so adored life died of cancer.

But his son maintains the disease never beat his father.

"He died of it, yes," says Stephen. "But through his three-and-a-half-year fight, it never broke him. I'd say he beat the cancer because he kept his faith and his strength to the end."