Marvin E. Curtis Jr. was. beyond a shadow of a doubt in my mind, the finest law enforcement officer I have ever had the pleasure to know.
He possessed the uncanny ability to talk a person into a jail cell and have them apologizing and thanking him. His physical stature and imposing presence certainly didn’t hurt matters. Standing around 6-foot-5-inches and about 250 pounds, the lean, raw-boned country man would intimidate most with any lick of sense.
Curtis attended Bob Jones University, a private non-denominational university in Greenville, S.C. It was there he met his wife, Faith. After graduation and marriage, the couple came back to Mississippi, and Curtis started his law enforcement career in his hometown of Utica.
Soon, he migrated to the Vicksburg Police Department, and then the Warren County Sheriff’s Office where he attained the rank of investigator.
Curtis then joined the Mississippi Highway Patrol and his career took off. Through the course of a 26-year career, he served in various capacities including the governor’s protection detail when to Kirk Fordice was governor. He oversaw driver services for a time before being promoted to lieutenant colonel. Gov. Haley Barbour tapped Curtis to lead the agency, and he was in that position when Katrina struck in August 2005.
Curtis waxed a bit philosophical recalling an interview with the late Fred Messina shortly after taking over as colonel of the highway patrol.
“I am like the turtle on top of the fence post” he said. “I didn’t get up here by myself. I will never forget where I came from.”
Through the years. he developed relationships with many in the media including the late Bert Case who was a strong antagonist of Fordice.
“Ole Bert was hardcore, but he taught me a lot of things,” Curtis said with a laugh.
He went on to say that WLBT’s Howard Balou was someone who always treated him fairly and how much he valued their relationship. “Howard is a true professional,” Curtis said. “He was very gracious to me.”
Curtis’ family had begun to attend the Warrenton Independent Baptist Church in 1991. Brother Johnny Wilborn, known as the “Singing Policeman” was pastor of the church at that time.
In the spring of 2005, Curtis was ordained as a Baptist minister. He became associate pastor of his home church soon after. Pastor Wilborn’s health declined, and he passed away in September 2006, and Curtis assumed his role in October of that year.
I asked Pastor Curtis how he felt about other pastors defying the orders of the government and holding services, such as the recent situation in Greenville.
“I know a pastor does what he thinks is right,” he replied. “I am doing services on Facebook. I am doing what I feel is right, and I am sure these pastors feel they are right because they have an older congregation who possibly doesn’t have access to the internet. But the government should be careful, because the church represents the Lord, and the Lord has the ability to heal or destroy a land. I don’t like the idea of a government doing what they did.”
Curtis said he has been encouraging his congregation to pray for our leaders.
“Everyone wants to be an armchair quarterback and say what they would do if they were in that position. But the Bible tells us to lift our leaders up in Prayer for wisdom,” he said. He added to visit the old testament and read in Daniel and Ezekiel. “I don’t think the Lord is happy with many things going on in the world today,” he said.
Curtis and his wife still call Utica home. “The Lord places us where he wants us to be,” he said.
He recalled telling Ballou when he announced his retirement from MHP in March 2006: “The good Lord works in mysterious ways to get you where he wants you.”