Curtis S. Tice dies at 83; artist and architectural model maker has worked on the human heart and the coal mine at MSI and displays at Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s

When Curt Tice helped his kids with their school projects – including a Viking ship, a scale model of an oil refinery, and a 3-foot-long Jurassic-era dragonfly – they were so incredibly detailed that their teachers were finishing up. sometimes by keeping them.

Architectural model maker, Mr. Tice worked on the restorations of the Coal Mine at the Museum of Science and Industry and on its 13-foot-high model of a beating human heart that has captivated generations of schoolchildren. .

The longtime Palatine resident died in his sleep on December 13 at the Prairie Hills assisted living facility in Independence, Iowa. He was 83 years old.

“He could fix anything. He could do anything, ”said his daughter Dawn Magliola.

Mr. Tice sculpted the Beatles statues at Rock ‘n’ Roll McDonald’s in Chicago. He has worked on life-size replicas of whales and dinosaurs for museums. And he set up a “coral reef” at Epcot and the Shedd Aquarium.

Mr. Tice also helped make a model of the Great Mosque of Mecca for the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee.

To build medical exhibits and transparent mannequins to show the inner workings of the human body, he studied anatomy books. Her daughter Dorothy Loutfi said her late husband Hassan, a cardiologist, “told me that my father’s knowledge of anatomy was incredible.”

For a railroad in his backyard, he researched Civil War bridges built by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Curt Tice (on a ladder) repairing a fossil for an exhibit.

When he was born at home in Edmundston, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1937, the attending physician arrived by sleigh. Her house had a door on the second floor so the family could exit when the snowdrifts were high, her children said.

Young Curt spent most of his childhood at Des Plaines, where he played with his Irish setter, Flame, according to Dorothy Loutfi. “He talked about his dog races in the river and bringing back snakes to my grandmother as gifts,” his son Dan said.

He played euphonium in the band at Maine Township High School and worked at Ray Kroc’s first McDonald’s restaurant in Des Plaines. He later studied architecture at the old University of Illinois Navy Pier campus and industrial design and sculpture at the School of the Art Institute.

In his early 20s, he fell in love at first sight when he met his wife, Gail, at a party. They married in 1961.

Curt Tice fell in love with his wife, Gail.  Here they are on their wedding day in 1961.

Curt Tice and his wife, Gail, are on their wedding day in 1961.

Their children remember how radiant he was when she performed Chopin’s “Raindrop Prelude” on the piano. “The expression of pride on her face – he was really moved every time she played,” said Dorothy Loutfi.

Almost half a century after their marriage, he said in a letter: “I think we’re more in love now than we’ve ever been.”

From 1961 to 1965 he worked at the Richard Rush Studio in Chicago, a renowned model maker and official costume maker for Smokey Bear.

The hours were long, so long that one day Mr. Tice arrived home and heard his 3 year old daughter, Dawn, say, “Mom, there is a strange man in the house. “

Although he enjoyed working for Richard Rush, he quit the next day. He took a job at another model making company which gave him more time with his family.

Years later, he returned to work for Rush Studio in a job with more control over his schedule.

Mr. Tice made house calls for Sears, repairing furniture that had been scratched during deliveries. And he did the scenography for the Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center and worked to preserve this Palatine theater.

He loved helping his kids with homework dioramas, teaching them how to make tiny trees with twisted wire and flocking.

“Mine was an A-frame house with plexiglass windows,” said Dawn Magliola.

“I made a model of an oil refinery,” said Dorothy Loutfi.

“I made a 3-foot, Jurassic Age, dot-welded dragonfly,” Dan Tice said.

To transport his heavy tools, he had air shocks installed on his mint green Delta 88 Oldsmobile.

Occasional modeling accidents have cost her a number of fingernails and a fingertip, prompting exclamations of “For screaming out loud” – and sometimes, something louder – from her studio.

Mr. Tice loved the music of Leon Redbone and the TV show “Perry Mason”. He read science fiction and made Pinewood Derby cars for his grandchildren. He loved decorating for Christmas while listening to the jazzy albums of the Swingle Singers.

When he enjoyed an experience or an event, he would say, “It was great! “

His wife passed away in 2012. Besides his daughters Dawn and Dorothy and son Dan, Mr. Tice is survived by his sister, Sharon Gregg, and eight grandchildren. Services have taken place.

His kids say they think of him every time they smell of turpentine, freshly cut wood, or adhesive spray.

Corina C. Butler