March 18, 2012

Rest In Peace: Curtis "Teddy Bear" Wofford (1959-2008)


A brother I knew back in my college days passed away on this day in 2008. His name was Curtis Wofford, Jr., although most of our college town (Riverside, CA) knew him as 'Teddy Bear'. Curtis, Kin 'Undisco Kid', Cecil 'Sweet C' Treadway, Lenny 'Mighty Mac' McNeil, Herb 'Superb Herb' Partlow and me ('The Wizard of Soul & Mind') were radio personalities at KUCR 88.3 FM  ... a student-operated radio station on the campus of the University of California, Riverside (UCR).

Kin began the magic in 1978.  Lenny and Cecil joined KUCR a little later.  I came on-board sometime in 1979 or 1980.  Teddy Bear and Herb hosted their inaugural shows on the same day in August 1980.

To my knowledge, Curtis never attended the school as a student. However, he was persistent in coming by the radio station each weekend ... until the station manager, Louis Vandenberg, eventually gave 'Teddy Bear' his own radio show.  He joined the broadcast family, created by Kin, Lenny and Cecil, which became known as 'Soul of Sunday'. We were the SOS Crew ... and for a brief period of time we were wildly popular in the Inland Empire. We DJ'd parties at local hotels, roller-skating rinks and were regular DJ-guests at the California Institute for Women ... home of the Manson girls and other female felons.

Cecil, Lenny and I eventually left Riverside and KUCR. Curtis stayed at the radio station. He continued KUCR’s “Soul on Sunday” during his longtime involvement in the station, from the early ’80s to the mid-’90s. As Louis Vandenberg wrote,
"Teddy was a respected community volunteer at KUCR. He made a real contribution as a broadcaster over the airwaves on KUCR, as program host, producer, music coordinator, MC and Program Director. He knew the music well and brought it to the community with an unforgettable personality and style. He was a good and gifted man who was a joy to know and to work with. His passing is a real loss, deeply felt. We remember him now for the gift of his great talent and warm personality, with deep appreciation and gratitude. All condolences to his surviving family members."
Curtis bought my first car ... a 1972 Chevy Nova ... from me when I left Riverside in 1981. I saw him once or twice after that. He died at the age of 48, on March 18, 2008 at Riverside Community Hospital.

He was born March 27, 1959 in Gadsden, AL. Curtis graduated from Rubidoux High School and attended Riverside Community College. Curtis is survived by his brothers, Joseph Whatley, Riverside, CA, Jerry Chance, Perris, CA., James Chance, Philadelphia, PA, Dean Ragland, Detroit, Michigan; sisters, Vanessa Evans, Riverside, CA, Marjorie Roberts, Perris, CA, Michelle Chance, Philadelphia, PA; host of nieces, nephews and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mary Jo Whatley and Curtis Wofford, Sr.

Curtis was truly an Original Villager and I am very sad to learn of his passing. If you knew him ... please take a moment to sign his guest book. If you did not know Teddy Bear ... please keep him and his family in your prayers anyhow. One Love, Teddy...

4 comments:

Los Angelista said...

What a very sweet tribute. So sad for him to go so young.

Villager said...

Los Angelesita - It reminds us that tomorrow is not promised to anyone...

Regina said...

My very sincere and heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to you Villager and of course to the Wofford family.
May he RIP...

Villager said...

Regina - Asante sana...