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‘How Much He Was Cherished’

The BC Law community responds to the news of alumnus Kevin Curtin's passing.


Kevin Curtin ’88, senior appellate counsel/grand jury director for the Middlesex District Attorney and a beloved teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend to hundreds, if not thousands, within the Boston College Law School community, passed away suddenly on December 10.

An alumnus with deep family ties to Boston College and the Law School (the Curtin Center for Public Interest Law is named for his father, John “Jack” Jr. ’57, and mother, Mary Daly), Kevin Curtin was a compassionate, fair-minded man whose loyalty was constant and unwavering. His professional accomplishments were legion. He served as a judicial clerk for US District Court Judge William G. Young; a teacher at Boston College, University of Virginia, and Harvard law schools; a law reform consultant to the Republic of Uzbekistan; a vice chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Council; and won prizes like the ABA Norm Maleng Minister of Justice Award that honors those who understand that the “the duty of the prosecutor is to seek justice, not merely to convict.”

But even those achievements cannot capture the measure of this man of enormous feeling for humankind. The comments of friends and colleagues, however, can and do provide a panoramic view of the Kevin Curtin who walked the halls of law, dispensing wisdom and kindness to everyone he met.

As Curtin himself, then-president of the BC Law Alumni Board, wrote in a BC Law Impact blog post to graduates in 2015 about the bond that holds the community together: “I understand why the essential quality of our BC Law experience can never show up in a photograph (the best thing about my graduation photos was the shining presence of my brilliant and fabulous wife, Susan Jeghelian ’86). The reason is because, as the wise fox in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince explained, ‘L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux; on ne voit bien qu’avec le coeur.’ ‘The essential is invisible to the eyes. We only see clearly with the heart.’”

From the hearts of some of those who knew him, taught him, and befriended him come the following remembrances.

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to tell you that Kevin Curtin ’88 passed away earlier today. Kevin was a loyal and caring colleague and friend to so many of us. He was immensely proud of BC Law, and he supported this community in innumerable ways. We are heartbroken and grieve for his family, especially his wife and daughter.—Dean Vincent Rougeau

Kevin was one of the very best people I have ever known. He was a consummate professional who cared greatly about his work and making a contribution, which he did in many ways in Boston and nationwide, as well as internationally by doing things like going to Uzbekistan to train lawyers and judges. He was a dedicated teacher and mentor to students here at BC Law. He was an enthusiastic alumnus and great supporter of BC Law. I also had the privilege of knowing what a great dad, friend, and member of the community he was. Our daughters went to school together since kindergarten, and Kevin quickly befriended me when he learned we were new in town. I got to see repeatedly what a loving and devoted father and husband he was, as well as what a truly humane and kind person he was. The combination of talent, humility, and deep kindness that Kevin had is rare, and will be sorely missed. I am heartbroken for the loss of our friend and for the loss to his wife and daughter.—Professor David Olson

This is really heartbreaking. Kevin lived out the mantra of a life of service to others. He represented the best of our tradition and our values. I feel bad for the future students who won’t get to work with him.—Professor Daniel Lyons

I would often run into Kevin as I was heading home to the Jesuit Community and he was just arriving at the Law School for an evening of teaching. He was always so positive and enthusiastic about his mission and always cheerful. He was often the winning bidder on my offer of dinner at St. Mary’s Hall at the annual PILF Auction! Kevin had a large presence at BC Law. I feel terrible about his untimely passing. I hope that his family is able to take some comfort in knowing how much he was cherished and loved at the Law School.—Fred Enman ’78, SJ

Kevin lit up a class. When discussion lagged, as it sometimes does, he would pick up the thread and lead us all, sometimes in new directions. It was a joy to be his teacher and his friend.—Professor George Brown

He was a deeply engaged student in his law school years, and stayed linked to the Law School in so many ways over all the years since. How sudden this was, and how great a loss to us and to his family.—Professor Zygmunt Plater

The world is a darker place today for the loss of Kevin Curtin. I didn’t have the opportunity to work closely with Kevin, but whenever I would see him in the hallways or at a BC event, Kevin would inevitably brighten my day with his optimism, kindness, and extraordinary sense of decency. He was one in a million and to say he will be sorely missed is the understatement of the year.—Professor Ray Madoff 

I remember when I arrived here in the USA in 2018 [as a visiting scholar from Brazil] and went to [a BC Law] summer program. That day I met Kevin. He was amiable, welcoming, and totally available to help me choose my home to live in, especially given the difficulties I told him: everything new, 3 kids in the car to look for the house, etc. Last August, at the Insights Program course certificates ceremony, I was able to say how grateful I was to him and that his words, on that day in 2018, marked me a lot! [You could] just look at Kevin and see how pure he was and always ready to help people.—Visiting Scholar Pedro Lenza

I am deeply saddened by Kevin’s passing. I knew him well and he was such an outstanding person. I was just about to write an email to him with the hope that it would have given him some pleasure.—Professor Emeritus Sanford Katz  

Devastating news that someone who contributed so much, in so many ways, has left us. Kevin was a wonderful person, great lawyer, and loyal alum. He was in the first class I taught at BC and we have been good friends ever since. Godspeed my friend.—Professor James Repetti ’80

This is so hard to take in. I came to know Kevin through our work in Uzbekistan, where he demonstrated his commitment to increasing justice in the world. When he worked with prosecutors there, they learned about justice and fairness from his words and his example. He will be missed in so many places.—Professor E. Joan Blum

Kevin was a true legal eagle. He did so much for our school with grace and generosity. May his memory be a blessing.—Professor Robert Bloom ’71

Kevin connected to so many of us in really personal ways.  Kevin had this way of making each of us believe that we were the most important person to him.  In a kind of miraculous way, we really were.—Professor Paul Tremblay

There is so much I can say about Kevin, we worked so closely together to bring justice and rule of law in multiple situations. Here’s one example. In 2016, Kevin and I, together with Kathleen Hamill ’97, worked on the ABA Resolution and Report establishing civil rights violations of Turkish judges and prosecutors. I remember one night in particular when I and two Turkish judges were at Kevin’s home office, with UN Reports and European Court of Human Rights cases spread across the office floor, drafting and discussing the key aspects of the report, the treaties and cases establishing the rules, until it was so late Kevin offered his house for the judges to sleep overnight. We worked nearly around the clock until Kevin negotiated a consensus vote on the ABA floor two weeks later, bringing that resolution into force. He was sure of purpose and fearless, and did not waiver on what he knew to be right and true.—Director of Graduate Legal Education and International Programs Susan Simone Kang

It’s hard to pick a single story to capture so many small moments of kindness, generosity, warmth, and service to law and to our community. Such a fine person.—Professor Frank Garcia

Kevin was one of the first students I got to know well as a rookie professor here. I will fondly remember playing basketball with him in the parking lot near the Quonset Hut during lunch time in the summer.—Professor Alfred Yen

Kevin Curtin, right, with professors Mark Brodin and Thomas Carey '65 at Law Day 2017
Kevin Curtin, right, with professors Mark Brodin and Thomas Carey ’65 at Law Day 2017

I just came across the assignment for the class visit Kevin made to my Scientific & Forensic Evidence Seminar in February, 2019. He was at the forefront of the effort to enforce reliability standards on the evidence prosecutors have used for generations to lock people up– or worse– without having to demonstrate any scientific validity. The class was completely enthralled, as I was. We knew we were in the presence of a most special person.—Professor Mark Brodin

What a loss of a beloved member of our community who was constantly smiling and friendly. As is clear from reading these emails, he made such an impact on so many lives.—Professor Mary Holper ’03

I worked with Kevin on a number of projects and initiatives over the years, and he was always so unfailingly enthusiastic, positive, and full of excitement and energy to make a difference. I loved working with him. But what I remember most fondly is when my family went to church for a holiday celebration—we had never been to that church before, but to my surprise, there was Kevin. He was so genuinely happy to see us and so warm and welcoming to my wife and children—it just made us all feel immediately at peace. That is how I remember him—not just how wonderful he was to work with, but how he was during a chance meeting, and how he took the time to make my family feel at home in a new space.—Director of Marketing and Communications Nate Kenyon

I believe that Kevin was respected, admired, and loved by everyone in this community and far beyond. Whenever he reached out to collaborate on a project or to undertake a speaking role (in a Senior Center, for example) or to research or advocate for human rights and justice around the world, I always had three distinct impressions:  First, that he was engaging with me personally in a genuine way; second, that he was inviting me to join a community of other good people engaged in the same project; and third, that the work would be of the highest legal and ethical standards. (Actually, as I write, a fourth also comes to mind: that it would be easy and fun to work with him.) This is a remarkable gift and I can think of very, very few people I have ever known who have it. I do hope his family knows how we all felt about Kevin and how devastated we are by his passing. He represented the absolute best of us and to my mind was an outstanding example of the joys and privileges of teaching at BC.—Professor Daniel Kanstroom

Kevin and I overlapped at the DA’s Office briefly before I left to come to BC. We started these new chapters of our careers together—you know, when the learning curve is huge and swirls around you—and I turned to him numerous times to teach a class, share his perspectives, help with placing or supervising a student. He was so steady and always helped out. His well of generosity and support on a personal level, and on a wider community level, for BC and for our profession, was endless. And his voice, his gaze, and his presence—you felt he was always right there with you. Recently, I had an interaction with a local merchant-craftsman who, upon learning I taught at BC Law, mentioned Kevin Curtain and his love for Kevin and his family. Kevin’s reach went from the micro to the macro, and words like pure, gentle, grace and generosity resonated everywhere. He was a beautiful soul.—Professor Evangeline Sarda

This is really hard. I enjoyed every conversation I was fortunate to have with Kevin over the decades we knew each other. His combination of special qualities made him a joy to run into at virtually every BC Law function, almost every public interest event, and in the hallways of the school on his way to teach our students. He was generous in conversation, both sharing about himself and asking about others. I never saw him more joyful than when he was on his way to co-teach with his dad. This past semester, he and I taught in person across from each other in 401 and 402 on Tuesday afternoons. During breaks we chatted about the marvelous things he was doing and was interested in doing. He couldn’t have been more curious about my class and how things were going for me in the pandemic. Undoubtedly, he set an example of brilliance, hard work, enthusiasm, and kindness from which his students benefited immensely. Along with everyone in our community, I feel fortunate to have known him.—Professor Alan Minuskin

I share [Professor Alan Minuskin’s] memory of Kevin, walking the fourth floor of Stuart at 5 p.m., greeting students and faculty at the school he loved, helping the father he revered, and eager to perform the role he relished.—Adjunct Professor Thomas Barnico ’80 

 I don’t know where to begin or how to express this incredible sadness that I feel over Kevin’s passing. It isn’t that we were close by the usual standards. But that is just it, Kevin wasn’t a usual person. He had a way of making everyone who came into contact with him feel as though he heard you, understood you, and wanted to help you. There was never a call to Kevin for help — with a student, a graduate, a program, a problem — that went unanswered. Some of the most in need students, those that others would say could not be helped, he took under his personal wing. I’m sure that there are hundreds of graduates who would come forward and speak about how Kevin inspired them and helped them become the lawyers they are today. His light clearly lives on in all of us.—Associate Dean of Strategic and Students Affairs Heather Hayes ’95

I’ve written hundreds of alumni sympathy notes over the years, and this should come easily given all that Kevin did for our law school (including serving as Alumni Board President). But it’s amazing how much slower and more painfully the words come when it’s someone I called a friend for so many years. Suffice it to say, I’ll really miss him.—Associate Director of Major Giving Christine Kelly ’97

It is overwhelming to know that the profound sense of individual and collective loss we are experiencing with Kevin’s death is multiplied across the many personal and professional communities he was a beloved and respected part of. In addition to what others have mentioned, Kevin was also leader in the Mass. bar, an advocate for civil rights and prosecution integrity. I so appreciate this sharing of our love and respect for Kevin and hope we can find ways to honor and continue his legacy.—Professor Sharon L. Beckman

Such a devastating loss! Kevin was in one of my first BC classes, and I still remember his idealism and vibrant enthusiasm, both of which would mark his career as a lawyer and a teacher. Of course, he was from a great BC family, and [his parents] Jack and Mary were always ready to help a new Dean in every way. Our prayers for Kevin’s family, and our deep gratitude for his life, that exemplified what makes this a great law school.—Professor and Former Dean Daniel Coquillette

Kevin’s wife, Susan, read this BC Law Magazine article and said that the “stories from folks who knew Kevin and admired him was so meaningful to me and gave me great comfort and strength, as it did for his other family members.” 

 She also noted that because of Covid, they are holding a private burial with close family. “In the late spring or early summer when we can all get vaccinated and travel is safe, we are planning to hold a memorial service and celebration of Kevin’s life,” she said. Kevin’s obituary was published in the Sunday Boston Globe. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, people make donations to the Curtin Center for Public Interest Law at Boston College Law School.

Read additional coverage in the ABA Journal.