Curtis Golden Leaves Lasting Legacy

Posted on September 6, 2023 by SPECIAL TO SSR NEWS

Curtis A. Golden, 89, of Milton Florida passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday September 3, 2023, and went to be with his heavenly father.  Curtis is known throughout Florida, where he made history as a family man, prosecutor, businessman and individual of unquestionable integrity.

Curtis was born January 16, 1934, to Albert and Jewell Golden, of Holley, Florida, in a small four-room house built by his father in the forest now known as Eglin Reservation.  He attended school in Holley, Florida before moving to Bagdad, Florida.  He spent his childhood swimming in Blackwater Bay and delivering papers with his pony “Bill.” He began working at his father’s service station at age 9 where he hand-dug pits for the gas tanks, changed tires, and serviced vehicles. Curtis decided he wanted a better life. 

Curtis attended Milton High School where he belonged to the Key Club and was very proud to have been All Conference in Football, Baseball and Basketball.  He was a natural athlete, being of slim build and standing six feet two inches tall.  He was also driven academically. To obtain his education as soon as possible, while attending Milton High School he attended Marion Military Institute in the summers for additional courses. During senior year of high school, Curtis completed his first semester courses at Milton High School and mid-year enrolled at the University of Alabama. He completed one full semester of college before attending his Milton High School graduate ceremonies in 1952.  In college, Curtis graduated early again. He completed seven years of higher-level education in five years. He attended the University of Alabama and then transferred to Florida State University.  In 1957, he graduated from the Stetson University College of Law School with a Bachelor of Laws (L.L.B.) law degree.  When Curtis became a member of the Florida Bar in 1957 at the age of 23, he was the youngest attorney in Florida. 

From 1957-1969, he practiced private law in Milton, Florida.  During this time, he also served as an Assistant Santa Rosa County Attorney from 1957-1959. In 1963, Curtis became an Assistant State Attorney, appointed by the Florida Senate.  He served in this capacity for six years. In 1965, Curtis married Mary McDonald and they have been married for 57 years. 

In the early years of his career, Curtis served on the Board of Directors for Santa Rosa State Bank and, along with John Pittman, organized the Jay Hospital. He also served on the governing board of Stetson University Law School for 10 years and with his wife operated two Milton radio stations, WONF-FM and WSRA-AM.

In 1969, Curtis ran for State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida.  Curtis won and was the youngest State Attorney in Florida. For 36 years, Curtis served as the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit. In this role, Curtis was the Chief Prosecutor representing people in criminal courts of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton.  Curtis was known as a “No Plea” prosecutor with a firm but mild manner.  He was an exceptional trial attorney. Curtis’ personal conviction rate was 93%.  He believed in justice for victims and protecting those who cannot protect themselves.  Curtis was a member of the Florida State Justice Administrative Commission in Tallahassee for 15 years.  Curtis chaired the Commission for 10 of those years. The Justice Administrative Commission furnishes administrative services for 43 state agencies, employing 8500 employees.   Working with local law enforcement, churches and the Florida education system, Curtis spearheaded and assisted with many First Judicial Circuit of Florida programs designed to educate the youth and protect victims.  He particularly advocated for the rights of domestic violence victims. Curtis also proudly employed the first female assistant State Attorney in the State of Florida. Throughout his career, he was presented with many awards including the Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Eugene Whitworth Award. 

Curtis served as the State Attorney for the First Judicial Circuit of Florida until 2005, when he retired.  At his retirement, the office consisted of 72 attorneys and over 200 total employees. He was very proud of the numerous attorneys who began their career under his tutelage, several of whom became State and Federal Judges, State Attorneys and U.S. Attorneys. In 2007, the Florida Legislature renamed Garcon Point Road to Curtis Golden Boulevard in recognition of his service to the State of Florida.   Today, Curtis remains the Dean of the State Attorneys for the State of Florida, the longest serving State Attorney in Florida history. 

Curtis is survived by his wife Mary of 57 years, one sister, Naomi Golden, Daughters Rita Gunter (David), Ginger Bouk (Troy), Grandchildren Bailey Bouk, Whitney Bouk, Maryanne Gunter, and Curtis Canon Gunter.  From a previous marriage Pam Hardy and Keith Golden and their children.  He is predeceased by his father Albert Golden, mother Jewell Golden and sister Katie Culpepper.

In retirement, Curtis enjoyed his home on Blackwater Bay and spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He and his wife spent hours driving throughout the Panhandle of Florida, which meant so very much to him.  He liked to check on the progress, as well as the problems.  He continued to be active in his community and a mentor and friend to many.  His passing will leave an unfillable gap to be forever felt by his family and those who knew him.

Pallbearers are Doug Broxson, Russ Edgar, Curtis Canon Gunter, Jack McDonald, Sonny McDonald, Michael Patterson, Johnny Peaden, and John Simon. Honorary Pallbearers are former staff from the State Attorneys Office and friends.

The family extends loving appreciation to Johnny Peaden, lifelong friend, and former Chief Investigator of the State Attorney’s Office, for his help during this difficult time. The family also thanks the many others from Curtis’ career who visited or called to express their love and support for Curtis.

Lewis Funeral Home is arranging a memorial service in Curtis Golden’s honor on Saturday, September 9th, 2023, at First Baptist Church of Milton, 6797 Caroline Street, Milton, Florida.  Visitation will begin at 2:00pm, followed by a funeral ceremony at 3:30pm. Curtis will be placed to rest at Serenity Gardens Cemetery. Family and friends are welcome.