Curtiss C. Brazil, a former sales and marketing executive turned educator who enjoyed working with special-education students, died Monday of complications from coronary bypass surgery at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Fells Point resident was 45.
Mr. Brazil -- who was fond of saying that his name is "spelled like the country" -- was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. He earned a bachelor's degree in visual science and technology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 1985.
He began his business career in sales and marketing with the Saginaw News in Michigan. He moved to Baltimore in the late 1980s, when he took a similar position with the Eveready Battery Co.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Brazil decided to change careers and embarked on a career as an educator. He taught mathematics at Deep Creek Middle School in Essex while earning a master's degree in special education from the Johns Hopkins University in 1993.
"With the goal of some day becoming a staff administrator, he worked tirelessly at all levels and for many schools, including Sudbrook Magnet Middle, Woodlawn High School, Deer Park Middle and Kenwood High School," said Ed Jones, a longtime friend. "He had a great affinity for special-ed kids."
In 2006, Mr. Brazil joined the Baltimore public schools as a specialist working with special-education students and their parents, as well as teachers and social workers.
"All of them would come together under his leadership, and he'd lead the discussion and together the group would make recommendations for the student," said Tajah M. Gross, principal of Northwestern High School.
"His personality was one of cooperation and a very positive outlook. He'd always go the extra mile to make sure all the supports were in place for a student," Ms. Gross said. "His death is a great loss for our family at Northwestern."
In an announcement to the staff and students, Ms. Gross said, "This was Mr. Brazil's first year at Northwestern as [a special-education specialist], but his warm personality and loving smile made him one who was loved by all."
"I worked with him at Woodlawn as well as Kenwood high schools," Tracy T. Kramer, a guidance counselor at Kenwood, said yesterday. "He worked well with kids, and the special-needs students whom he took under his wing to guide adored him."
Mrs. Kramer described him as a "wonderful mentor."
"He made them understand that they had their own unique abilities and were not any less than anyone else. He refused to dwell on negativity, enjoyed his job and liked coming to it," she said.
She added: "Ed had a big, boisterous laugh that sucked you in and lit up a room. He'll be extremely missed."
"His commitment went well beyond the complex education procedures he mastered," Mr. Jones said. "He took a personal interest in his students, creating avenues to award good students, and mentored African-American male students who needed a role model."
Mr. Brazil enjoyed traveling and skiing. He was an accomplished baker and liked listening to the music of Toni Braxton, Corinne Bailey Rae, Natalie Cole and Mica Paris, friends said.
Services will be held today in Akron. Plans for a memorial service to be held in Baltimore in February were incomplete yesterday.
Surviving are two brothers, Stanley C. Brazil and Kevin Brazil, both of Akron.