A One-Name Study
for the BARNUM/BARNHAM Surname
Notes for Elizabeth Phelps BARNUM
Elizabeth Phelps Barnum, daughter of Phelps Barnum, aka Libby Bill Curtis.
SSDI: Elizabeth B. Curtis Born March 30, 1923 died March 6, 2007 last residence Sikeston, Scott County, Missouri.
Standard Democrat, Sikeston, Missouri, Friday, March 9, 2007: Libby Curtis died last Tuesday in Sikeston. Born Elizabeth Phelps Barnum March 30, 1923, in New York City, she was the daughter of Phelps Barnum and Catherine Davis Barnum. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut where she attended Greenwich Academy and the Westover School in Middlebury where she graduated in 1942. Originally intending to become a professional singer, she redirected her goals to contribute to the war effort in World War II. She paid for her own training and became one of the nation’s first airport radio operators which was the precursor of the modern air traffic controller. During the war she was stationed at the airport in Cincinnati, Ohio.
On October 28, 1945, she married Capt. Josiah W. Bill (USMC) who had just returned from three years in the Pacific. She was the mother of three children, Larry, Betsy and Josh and she moved her household 13 times in response to changes in location and promotions in her husband’s career. She was widowed in 1970 but remarried in 1973 to Brigadier General James Curtis. They traveled extensively and lived in Blacksburg, Virginia until his death in 1978. In 1981, she took up winter residence in Alexandria, Virginia In 1995, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia and in 2005 to Sikeston.
Libby is survived by her son, Lawrence W. Bill of Connecticut, daughter Betsy Bill Gross of Texas and Josiah Bill and daughter in law Patricia Huff Bill of Sikeston. She is also survived by her brother William Milo Barnum and sister-in-law Kit Barnum of Providence, Rhode Island and 8 grandchildren.
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