Being “Family Strong”: Linda’s Story


Linda Curtis (left) alongside her husband, Dick (Right), and son Ryan (center). The Curtis family called on the Red Cross for help in March after the passing of Ryan’s grandmother.

Story by Jon Breems

The strength of a family is tested and, perhaps, never more important than when a close family member passes. On March 19, the Curtis family, of Hastings, MI, learned of their grandmother’s passing in nearby Lansing. Linda Curtis, along with her husband and daughter, needed to start making plans for her mother-in-law’s funeral.

One of Linda’s toughest hurdles in preparing for the funeral was whether or not her immediate family could be together for the service. Linda’s son, Ryan, was stationed with the Marines nearly 1,000 miles away in Mississippi. Ryan had been on two tours of duty, including one in Afghanistan, and was now studying to join the Marine aviation program. Linda called her son that day and asked him what he wanted to do about the funeral.

“He (Ryan) wanted to come home for his dad because he knows the importance of being ‘family strong’,” said Curtis. “He told me to call Red Cross.”

The next morning, Linda contacted her local Red Cross to use the Emergency Messaging Service and, hopefully, have her son return home. The Red Cross then contacted Ryan’s commanding officer in Mississippi to request an official leave of absence so Ryan could attend the funeral. By that evening, Ryan was cleared to come home.

“I was so thrilled…he (Ryan) had a flight by that night,” said Curtis  “It was a blessing that he was able to come home and get closure where he could say goodbye to her (his grandmother).”

The next day, Ryan was on a flight home to reunite with his grieving family and say farewell to his grandmother. He attended the funeral that weekend alongside his mother, father, sister, and wife—a former marine herself.

Like the marines, the Curtis family knows the importance of sticking together. Every day the American Red Cross ensures that during life’s most trying circumstances military families, like the Curtis family, can be at each other’s side and find comfort in being ‘family strong’.

“I thank Red Cross for reaching out and being there for us—especially my husband and especially for Ryan” said Curtis. “I’m just very grateful to Red Cross…it all worked out perfectly.”

If you would like more information on the Red Cross of West Michigan Service to the Armed Forces, visit or contact Sarah Day at – (616) 498-6102.


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