Curtis Roy loved history, and he took his family along for the ride.

On summer vacations, they'd pack into the family station wagon and head east to famous Civil War memorials such as Antietam, the site of the bloodiest single-day battle in American history in which more than 22,000 on both sides were killed, wounded or went missing.

"We went to Civil War battlefields for Dad, and he went to Virginia Beach for us," recalled Mary Fisher, of Bloomington, one of his daughters.

Along the way, if they saw a sign along the road that read, "Historical Marker," all the kids rolled their eyes because they knew their father was going to pull over so everyone could pile out to read it, Fisher said. "We called them hysterical markers. ... He was always more interested [in history] than us."

Nonetheless, two of his four children, including Mary, majored in history in college, as did two of his grandchildren.

"His passion was contagious," Fisher said.

Roy died Jan. 27 at age 93 at Friendship Village, a senior living facility in Bloomington.

Roy encouraged others to share his passion. He served on the executive committee of the Minnesota Historical Society from 1967 to 1992 and was board president from 1980 to 1983.

As president, Roy led the process to determine the best place to build the $60 million Minnesota History Center, which opened at 345 W. Kellogg Blvd. in St. Paul in 1992. "We can thank him for this magnificent History Center that we have all come to love and respect and enjoy," said Karen Humphrey, senior major gift officer for the Historical Society. Besides the Civil War, he had a special interest in the fur trade history of the state, she said.

Roy was committed to preserving the history of Minnesota and educating citizens about it, said Bill Stoeri, immediate past president of the society. "He helped the society grow to what it is today."

Roy was born in St. Paul, grew up in Duluth, served in the Marines in World War II, graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1948 and received a law degree from the U's Law School in 1950. He joined the law firm that became Dorsey & Whitney, rose to partner in 1957 and became head of the firm's labor employment law group.

"He was widely respected," said Ken Cutler, Dorsey's managing partner. "He was somebody we looked up to, and he trained a lot of lawyers that followed behind him."

Joan, his wife of 66 years, died last February. They had traveled around the world.

"He was devoted to her," said daughter Barb Hatch, of Edina. "They were a great pair."

In addition to daughters Barbara Hatch and Mary Fisher, he is survived by another daughter, Catherine Thatcher, of Edina; and a son, Steven Roy, of Mundelein, Ill.

A funeral service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 5071 Eden Av., Edina, with visitation at 10 a.m.

Star Tribune staff research librarian John Wareham contributed to this report.