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Boris Kurtov died peacefully in his home, in San Jose,
California, on April 10, 2023, surrounded by his loving family
members. He was 87.
Boris was born in Moscow, Russia on January 12, 1936. He
graduated from the Moscow Institute of Economics and
Finance. He proudly served in the Russian Army, and attained
the officer’s rank of Colonel.
Boris was truly a larger-than-life figure. He was gregarious,
amiable, and loved and respected everywhere he went. He was
known for rarely raising his voice, and for seldom complaining.
Boris met his wife, Ludmila Ananieva Kurtova, when she
was performing as a pianist while a student in the Moscow
Conservatory. Boris would proudly tell everyone that “I first
heard Ludmila’s music and immediately fell in love with it, and
then, upon seeing her, I immediately fell in love with her, too.”
Ludmila has on many occasions verified that this story is
essentially true. They were married in Moscow in 1959, and
they were married 64 years.

Boris’s education in economics and finance took him on
many career assignments throughout the then Soviet Union, as
well as to Budapest, Hungary, and to Leipzig, East Germany. He
also travelled to Cuba to assist with its banking system.
Coincidentally, Boris’ last executive position in Russia was
a ten-year stint he served as the Chief Director of the Moscow
Conservatory Grand Auditorium, the most prominent of all
performance halls throughout Russia and the entire Soviet
Union. Although Boris was not musically trained, he knew well
from a young age of the importance and passionate meaning of
classical music, and his life always involved classical music. So,
when he was appointed to lead the Grand Auditorium, it was a
doubly special moment for him, because of his having first met
his wife, Ludmila, when she was a piano student studying and
performing in the Moscow Conservatory.
Ludmila Kurtova, 86, survives Boris. Her career as an
acclaimed classical pianist blossomed, and she performed
before audiences throughout the Soviet Union and, in Western
Europe and the United States. She later taught gifted piano
students for many years at the California School of Music and
Arts, Mountain View, CA.
Boris was a lifelong devotee of classical music, and
classical opera, especially the famed Italian tenor, Luciano
Pavarotti.

Boris also got great enjoyment from reading the great
Russian poets: Pushkin, Tutchev. He often wrote verses to
Ludmila, and for his family’s events.
Boris and Ludmila’s only child, Natasha Kurtova, also
survives. Natasha, a journalist, left Moscow in 1990 to travel to
the United States and soon made arrangements to bring Boris
to the US to help raise her son (Boris’s grandson), Kirill Zagalsky,
who also survives. Ludmila joined the family in Palo Alto,
California, in 1995.
Boris was an exceptional athlete, playing professionally on
the Moscow Dynamo soccer team. Boris also developed a
fondness – and considerable skill – for playing tennis while in
Moscow. Once settled in California, he continued playing and
teaching tennis – quickly making a name for himself around the
courts at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto. His grandson, Kirill, was one
of Boris’s earliest tennis students. Thanks to the seed planted
by his grandfather, Kirill retains a lifelong interest in the game,
and in turn has passed the love of the sport on to his daughter,
Boris’ surviving great granddaughter, Mila Zagalsky, 10.
Similarly, Boris loved soccer very much. During his time in
Russia, he could often be found surrounded by dozens of Kirill’s
friends on the school yard or on the dirt field at their dacha
playing “futbol”. His passion for soccer has been inherited by all
three of his surviving great grandchildren including, Dominic
Zagalsky, 11, and J.J. Zagalsky 7, both remarkable young soccer
players in their own right. Boris also loved watching

professional tennis and soccer matches on television with Kirill,
and they spent countless hours discussing important sports
matters.
One of the first things Boris did after arriving in Palo Alto
was to find a suitable dog for the family. He knew that he
wanted a Black Russian Terrier, known for its beauty but also its
considerable strength and protective instincts. He found Basya,
a fierce, loyal and effective guardian of the Kurtovs’ first home
on Greer Road in Palo Alto and later, the Kurtov home in San
Jose. Basya’s service and affection endured for many years.
Boris also loved other dog species, particularly the Golden
Retrievers owned by Tom and Natasha and by Kirill and
Courtney, and he and Ludmila welcomed any opportunity to
care for them.
Boris also developed a love of gardening early in life. He
enthusiastically planted an entire garden of potatoes, carrots,
tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries, and strawberries at the
family dacha outside of Moscow. During his life in the United
States, Boris’ love for things of the soil was directed to his
robust and beloved rose and hydrangea plantings. He also
planted apple, persimmon, orange and lemon trees on his San
Jose home’s property, which over time grew tall and are still
producing large harvests annually. Boris often commented on
the incredible fertility of the soil in California when compared
to his prior experiences in Russia.

Boris loved working with his hands and creating new
things. He single-handedly built a 5-bedroom dacha for his
family in the countryside near Moscow. No small feat,
considering the absolute absence of any legitimate building
materials at that time in the Soviet Union. His building prowess
later manifested itself again when he constructed a smaller
version of the dacha in his backyard in San Jose. It included a
spa, a trellis of climbing roses, and a comfortable seating area
for him and Ludmila to sit in and enjoy the warm Summer
evenings and smell the many nearby roses. A small nearby
radio was always set to the classical music station.
Just as he did in the Soviet Union, Boris built his San Jose
dacha himself, but apparently without the benefit of a building
permit. Whether this oversight was accidental, or perhaps due
more to the legendary Russian indifference to legal niceties,
remains somewhat of a mystery. But when the building
inspector came to the Kurtov home with the intention of
delivering some potentially bad news about having to tear
down the illegally constructed dacha, Boris never skipped a
beat in presenting his irresistible and always sincere charm
offensive.
He proudly gave the building inspector a tour of the dacha,
conducted a short lecture on the cultural importance to
Russians everywhere to have a dacha – whether modest or
elaborate - and soon, because of Boris’s delightful manner and

perhaps aided by some vodka, the building inspector and Boris
became good friends, and no tear-down order was ever issued.
Boris developed an especially deep affection for Courtney
Zagalsky, his granddaughter-in-law and the mother of his three
great-grandchildren. He constantly praised Courtney’s
impressive mothering skills, her sweet and affable manner, and
her notable beauty and fashion taste. Courtney always smiled,
blushingly, when Boris’ sincere compliments came her way.
Those who survive Boris include, in addition to his wife,
Ludmila Kurtova, his daughter, Natasha Kurtova French, of
Portola Valley, CA, his grandson Kirill Zagalsky, of Los Angeles,
CA, his granddaughter-in-law, Courtney Marie Zagalsky, of Los
Angeles, CA, his three great-grandchildren, Dominic Zagalsky,
Mila Rose Zagalsky and Jarett Jay Zagalsky, all of Los Angeles,
CA, and his son-in-law, Tom French, of Portola Valley, CA. Boris
is also survived by his nephew, Ilya Kurtov, of Moscow, Russia.
Boris’ brother, Sasha Kurtov, of Moscow, Russia, preceded him
in death.
A private memorial service will be held at the Skylawn
Memorial Chapel, San Mateo, CA on Saturday, April 29, 2023.
Boris will be interred at Skylawn Cemetery, San Mateo, CA.
His family requests that, in lieu of flowers, any donations
made will go to the California School of Music and Arts (CSMA),
in Mountain View, CA.

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