COUNCIL BLUFFS — Though he didn’t live in Council Bluffs, Paul “Sam” Curley loved the city as if it were his home, and his contributions to the community will have an enduring and positive impact for years to come.
Curley, 71, died Monday in Papillion, where he had lived for the last six years. He lived in Bellevue before moving to Papillion. A memorial service will be today at 6 p.m. at Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home in Council Bluffs.
Curley, the executive director of the Council Bluffs Business Association, served on the advisory commission that Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan named to help lay the groundwork for city support of riverboat gaming in Council Bluffs.
“Sam was very active in the casino issue,” Hanafan recalled. “He was politically astute on the issues, and he had a real talent for getting people to work together.”
Tom Riley, the current director of the business association, said Curley was instrumental in developing the public campaign to lift Iowa’s restrictions on casino gambling.
“The dramatic economic changes that followed are due in no small part to his efforts,” Riley said.
Curley said recently he was particularly proud of his years with the business association and the organization’s accomplishments. He also served as secretary/treasurer of the Lewis and Clark Monument Restoration Committee and headed the Pottawattamie County Food drive for nine years.
Before joining the business group, Curley served in the Air Force for more than 21 years, retiring in 1981 as a master sergeant. He was awarded the Bronze Star for his three tours of duty in Vietnam, two meritorious service medals and two Air Force commendation medals, among others.
Hanafan remembered Curley as a “good guy, a level-headed guy.”
Riley said: “He could administer quarrelsome meetings among individuals with wildly different views on subjects dear to their hearts, turn the opponents into allies and find outcomes that were mutually beneficial for all.”
Survivors include his wife, LaVerne; son Paul Curley III of Papillion; sisters Patty Nelson of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Donna Frydman of Highland Beach, Fla.; and two grandchildren.