Former Vail resident, John Henry Kurtz, 1945-2008
John Henry Kurtz, 62, a Vail resident from 1973 to 1981 who lived in Cape May, N.J., passed away peacefully at Cape May Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, N.J., on March 8. Born in Havertown, Pa., he graduated from Havertown High School in 1963. During the summers in that time period, he worked as a lifeguard on the Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, N.J. beach patrols. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam era and when discharged, settled in Manhattan Beach, Calif., in the early 1970s. John Henry recorded several albums on the ABC Dunhill record label and became a member of the Screen Actors Guild. Moving to Vail in 1973, he became well known as a local entertainer at the original Clocktower as well as Purcells, the Holiday Inn and other venues, where many times he teamed up with Jojo Liles for some sessions that longtime locals still remember.He left Vail in 1981 for New York City and after a role in a Broadway play and several TV appearances, became a successful announcer for NBC Nightly News, along with being the voice on multiple commercials, Court TV, Saturday Night Live and many other programs. During this time, he triangulated between his restored Victorian home in Cape May, his stone farmhouse in Carversville, Pa., and his apartment in New York City, where he was a regular at Elaines Restaurant. He was memorialized at the end of the NBC Nightly News broadcast on March 10. In addition, John Henrys passion throughout his life was Civil War history and his Civil War collection, which is one of the premier private collections in the country. Much of his collection was used in the PBS special The Civil War. He is survived by his brother, William Kurtz and wife Karen, of Cape May; his nephew, Justin Kurtz and wife Kristen of Kauai, Hawaii; his niece, Jessica Breuss and husband Joseph of Cape May; and niece Lauren Kurtz, of Carlsbad, Calif.A memorial will be held at Bart & Yetis in Lionshead and on Vail Mountain on a date that, when determined, will be shared with John Henrys longtime Vail friends.
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