Eventide’s Curt Fadness has had an illustrious career in many caregiving roles: animal trainer, fine dining server, teacher, and finally in nursing at Eventide where he’s worked since 2001.
From his days as a server and manager at Embers to many seasons as a circus animal trainer (yes, you read that right), Curt has pretty much seen it all. But one thing’s for certain, this longtime nursing home staffer said, “It’s all about the people and taking care of each other.”
A Moorhead High School and Minnesota State University Moorhead graduate, Curt began his career at Eventide in 2001 as a CNA. “I started off on overnights in the nursing home, worked there for a year and then took more classes so I could administer medications,” Curt said.
Sixteen years later, Curt finally decided to retire. Kind of, sort of.
Curt during his career as an animal trainer
Curt with his grand-nephew
“A friend of mine at Eventide took a different position and they needed some help working four days a week,” he said. “So I said, ‘What the heck? I’ll do it.’ Now I work at the front desk every other weekend or when our administrative assistant goes on vacation.”
A far cry from whisking around helping residents, manning the front desk has its own meaningful moments. It also means Eventide in Moorhead’s lobby is always occupied by a smiling face, something Curt said makes him feel good about sticking around.
“It’s really neat being on this side,” he said. “I get to talk about the building and the amenities to potential residents when I go on tours with them.”
And who better to give those tours than someone who celebrates 22 years with Eventide this December?
“To be honest, I think what’s kept me at Eventide is the employees. I’ve worked with a lot of longtime employees. One nurse I work with has been here for 30 years. The other one is 31 years old. There’s a lot of longevity,” Curt said. “And a lot of it is also the residents. I’ve always been the kind of person who wants to help people.”
Spirit of adventure
Curt has always been the kind of person who loves making friends to people—and animals. With time off in summers during college, Curt joined the animal training crew at an amusement park in Cedar Point, Ohio, where he learned about humanely caring for animals trained to perform in live acts.
“Then when I graduated from college in 1972, they asked if I would work full-time for them in Florida as a large animal trainer. We trained animals, big cats and elephants, mostly,” Curt said.
For several years, he traveled with the crew putting on shows and contracting for Shriners Circus, which took him all over the east coast and midwest.
“The camaraderie of the circus people and everyone just helped out even when they didn’t know us,” he said.
As for the merits of learning on the job, Curt might have a majority of us beat. As an animal trainer, the best way to learn the craft was to jump right in.
“You just practice and learn on the job. We’d bring out the llama, boa, chimp and maybe a baby lion cub and you just sort of practice and watch the trainers who are better than you and sort of just do it,” he said.
Curt Fadness spent several years training circus animals.
Spirit of service
In 1978, when Curt’s career as an animal trainer came to a close, he changed gears and entered the world of fine dining in Naples, Fla.
“I loved it,” he said. “We learned a lot about food and wine. And of course I loved the customers and getting to know them and helping them.”
Eventually, however, his mother fell ill and Curt moved back to the Fargo-Moorhead area where he got a job at Embers, a popular family restaurant that closed in the late 1990s. He worked there for 13 years, and to this day, many of his favorite patrons still recognize him.
Spirit of more adventure
It might have been the circus. Or the fine dining in Naples. Or maybe just an adventurous heart, but Curt also loves to travel.
So far, he’s toured Europe, The Caribbean, taken an Alaskan cruise (his personal favorite), and walked the sandy beaches of Hawaii.
“You gotta go to Hawaii,” Curt said. “You can look at other people’s pictures of the sunsets and whatnot, but none of it does justice to what you see when you’re there. And Alaska. Oh, they rolled out the red carpet for me!”
Just before the pandemic hit, Curt was able to go to New York City where he took in some shows. (Another lifelong passion is live theatre.)
As for future travel plans, he hopes to cross cruising the Panama Canal off his list at some point. “That’s kind of my last dream to do that,” he said. Meanwhile, he’s looking forward to taking in some live local theatre performances around the Fargo-Moorhead region.
Spirit of more service
Technically, Curt has a degree in Elementary Education and History, though he didn’t pursue that as a career because he was called to serve people in different capacities.
Not only does he serve seniors, but he also volunteers time supporting people in the addiction recovery community and has 27 years of sobriety from alcohol and 23 years from cigarettes.
“I guess I do a lot more teaching than I think,” Curt said. “It’s very rewarding.”
And when nudged to share more about what has made his life so unique and enriched, Curt circles right back to the beginning and said, “It’s the people.”
We still think the circus gig was pretty neat, though!
Thank you, Curt, for your 22 years (and counting) of service to the Eventide community! You are a #DifferenceMaker!