Article Category: Passions | Pillars | SC35
Jim Kurtz

Jim Kurtz

Posted Wednesday, Jul 27
Southern Calls, Vol. 35, March 2022

We probably have never met, but you may have seen me before. I was that little guy watching funerals from the steps of the Catholic school across the street from Galloway & Sons Funeral Home in Beeville, Texas. I especially loved seeing the big cars that led the processions to the cemetery. It kind of reminded me of the movie “Harold and Maud.” Sometimes, I would peek in the windows along the sidewalk. We lived in a small town where there wasn’t much to do, and those steps gave me a front row seat to plenty of excitement.

First: The back story. I was born Michael Anthony Scruggs, April 2, 1952, in the naval hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. From there, my life became slightly complicated. William Edward “Bill” Scruggs and Geneva Irene McGhee “Eve” Scruggs were my birth parents, and I also had two older sisters, Cheryl and Deborah.  

In 1953, when I was not quite 1, my mom gave birth to my little brother Patrick. Because we were born so close together, they called us the “Irish Twins” ­– Pat and Mike.  

That same year, for whatever reason, Bill and Eve Scruggs decided to give my sisters to my mother’s family in Victoria. My younger brother and I were put up for adoption. The childless couple who adopted us were from Aransas Pass, near Corpus Christi. The man I call my father was a civil service employee at the Naval Air Station in Beeville, and my mother was a homemaker. Our names were changed: I became James Owen Kurtz, and my brother was now Larry Wayne Kurtz.  

Jim Kurtz of Fairview, Texas
Jim Kurtz of Fairview, Texas


The years passed, and, when I was 20, a young woman visiting my brother’s friend for dinner mentioned that when she was 5, she had two brothers, Pat and Mike, who were given away. What a coincidence!

Cheryl, my newfound biological sister, told me our birth parents were still together, living in Chicago – and still regretting giving us up. I really struggled to come to grips with what might occur emotionally if we ever met, but I eventually contacted them, and we exchanged photos by mail. That’s when I found out we had a much younger brother whose fourth-grade school photo was almost a duplicate of my own at that age. 

Starting in the mid-1970s, I was traveling regularly, and, on a trip to Chicago, I contacted my birth mother and told her I would like to meet her and my birth father. When I arrived at their home, I found that they had planned a party at an Irish club my Uncle Joey owned. There I met my father’s four brothers and three sisters and, more importantly, my father’s mother, Anne Virginia Durkin Harkins, who was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1909. She was the hostess of the club, which had an organ behind the bar and an Irish flag hanging from the ceiling. 

The remainder of this article is reserved for subscribers only

In addition to receiving all of our quarterly magazines by mail, subscribers to Southern Calls have exclusive access to additional online articles, as well as ability to read all Southern Calls magazine articles as they come available.

Get your One Year or Two Year subscription today, or login here to continue viewing the rest of the article. 

Southern Calls Issue 35

Order this issue

Southern Calls Issue 35

In stock

Articles Relating to Issue 35

Bibber Memorial Chapel

Bibber Memorial Chapel

The air smells briny and gulls caw overhead. In the distance, against the backdrop of an iron-colored horizon, a few hearty lobstermen trawl the sea, braving the frigid temperatures. It’s snowing again, but that’s not newsworthy. It’s winter in Maine. Three miles up…

Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Before reading any further, pause for a moment and reflect on your career, regardless of your age or your job title. Reminisce about opportunities that were afforded to you, both past and present. Consider equally decisions you made with the excitement of future…

Issue 35 Available Now!

Issue 35 Available Now!

It’s our first issue of 2022 and what a way to start the year – the inspirational story of Rhonda Keyes Pleasants details a fortuitous encounter that led her to the profession – our People article is compelling on many levels. Places visits the beautiful and historic…

Other Recent Articles

Bibber Memorial Chapel

Bibber Memorial Chapel

The air smells briny and gulls caw overhead. In the distance, against the backdrop of an iron-colored horizon, a few hearty lobstermen trawl the sea, braving the frigid temperatures. It’s snowing again, but that’s not newsworthy. It’s winter in Maine. Three miles up...

read more
Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Rhonda Keyes Pleasants

Before reading any further, pause for a moment and reflect on your career, regardless of your age or your job title. Reminisce about opportunities that were afforded to you, both past and present. Consider equally decisions you made with the excitement of future...

read more
Issue 36 Available Now!

Issue 36 Available Now!

See the beauty and honor of the funeral profession reflected through a father’s eyes as he documents the passing of his beloved son – every funeral director should own this issue. Mitchell’s Journey is a moving tribute to unconditional love as a grieving family...

read more
Issue 35 Available Now!

Issue 35 Available Now!

It’s our first issue of 2022 and what a way to start the year – the inspirational story of Rhonda Keyes Pleasants details a fortuitous encounter that led her to the profession – our People article is compelling on many levels. Places visits the beautiful and historic...

read more
Jack Backer

Jack Backer

At first glance, John Willmott “Jack” Backer, III – age 16, tall, handsome, varsity tennis player and straight-A sophomore at Sayre School in Lexington, Kentucky – appears to be a typical teenager who enjoys tennis and playing guitar, especially Southern gospel and...

read more
Stevens Mortuary

Stevens Mortuary

Stevens Mortuary occupies the historic Cedar Grove estate nestled in north Knoxville, Tennessee. When one arrives at the mortuary, surrounded by flowering dogwood trees, the stately antebellum era house, with wide, inviting porches, is reminiscent of a simpler time...

read more

Join Our Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter to periodically receive article updates, industry news, and details about new issues before they are released.

The Magazine