Cynthia Ann “Candy” Curran rescued dogs in need of homes, whipped up delicious strawberry crepes, moved in with sick relatives and friends to tend to them and served as chaperone for her children’s model United Nations and academic decathlon teams.
The longtime Chicago-area resident and retired respiratory therapist, who recently died at 71, also had a slightly twisted sense of humor.
True-crime TV helped take her mind to other places during the years she fought breast cancer. She loved the network “Investigation Discovery,” with its series “Fear Thy Neighbor” and “Evil Stepmothers” and episodes like “Sunday School Teacher Convicted of Murdering Husband by Spiking His Sports Drink.”
As her family put it in her death notice, “She oft reminded her husband Gerard of all the ways she had learned to bring about his early demise, from watching crime shows.”
Her favorite program was “Homicide Hunter,” where she absorbed information on crime scene evidence from retired Colorado Springs Police Lt. Joe Kenda. When her son Chris called her, she’d say, “I’m watching my man, Lt. Joe.”
“He’s teaching me,” she’d tease. “I’ve learned a few things from him. I told your dad I can do things so they won’t figure it out.”
Candy Curran, whose 45-year marriage to her husband Gerard was an inspiration to their two kids, died in her sleep May 18 at her home in Mission Viejo, California.
Her family buried her with a picture of a favorite Irish setter named Joe Reilly and one of her Department 56 Dickens Village Christmas houses. She liked wind chimes, so they hung chimes near her grave overlooking the ocean at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, Calif.
Though she’d lived in California for nearly 35 years, she still enjoyed deliveries of Vienna Beef Polish sausages and Irish bangers from Winston’s on 63rd Street. She thought she’d like to return to the Midwest someday and live in a Frank Lloyd Wright house.
She went to Elmwood Park High School and studied to be a respiratory therapist at Triton College in River Grove, working at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and Westlake Hospital in Melrose Park and Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.
She and her husband got to know each other while hanging out at an old counterculture bookstore and art gallery in Oak Park, her friend Barbara Conway said. She’d visit him at the Oak Park Clark gas station where he worked.
“Candy showed up with this burst of freshness,” said her sister-in-law Catherine Tomasiewicz.
The Currans lived in Melrose Park, Wheaton and unincorporated Lombard before moving to California around 1980. Her husband loved the West Coast. She thought it was too hot.
“It was a good thing my dad worked for Southern California Edison,” their son said, “because she liked to run the air conditioner all the time.”
Once, when a teacher told Chris Curran’s grade-school class he was planning to turn his daughter’s dog over to the pound, “I went to the pay phone and called my mom, and I said, ‘There’s a dog, and they’re going to send it to the pound,’ ” he recalled. “She said, ‘I’ll be right there.’ ”
That’s how they got their mutt Duchess. They also owned Irish setters named Colleen, Misty and Fallon; another mutt, Daisy Mae; and Cookie, a golden retriever who nuzzled her as she recovered from cancer treatments.
“When my husband had a stroke at 43,” Conway said, “she didn’t hesitate, got on a plane, came out here and stayed with my kids a good month or two.”
For a while, her son Chris managed a Mission Viejo McDonald’s. She sometimes worked there. His friends thought she was a cool, fun mom, and they enjoyed — and still can mimic — the chirpy Midwestern nasality of her drive-through greeting: “Welcome to McDonald’s, this is Candy, can I take your order?”
She loved Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow and trips to Scotland, where Gerard Curran had relatives. “She liked all the castles and the stories,” said her sister-in-law.
Almost every day, she received deliveries from QVC. She had so many Dickens Village components, “They had to store it in a storage locker,” Catherine Tomasiewicz said.
In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Curran is survived by another son, Justin, and four grandchildren. Services have been held.