OBITUARY: John Gary Culp

John Gary Culp was born Feb. 26, 1942, and passed peacefully at Kansas Christian Home in Newton on Jan. 31, 2021. He was preceded in death by his father, John Curtis Culp and his mother, Elizabeth Ann (Hover) Culp. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Barbara Culp (Crawford). This union was blessed with four children, Wayne Culp of Zenda, Karen Sturchio (Bobby) of Wichita, Betty Cope of Fort Gibson, Okla., and Amy Culp of Newton. He was the eldest of four children and is also survived by his sisters, Becky Laubmeier of Perkasie Pa., Ann Wood of Kenton Ohio, and Holly Alloway (Dan) of Winston Salem N.C. He was a grandfather to Nathan Sturchio, Kyla Achenbach (Sturchio), Dani Rau (Culp), Ryan Cope, Mitchell Sturchio, Dalton Cope, Larissa Hansard (Rucker), Amber Hawkins (Rucker), Seth Rucker, Megan Hoyt (Rucker), Abbie Trickel and 12 great-grandchildren.

He was a man full of wanderlust. It is what brought him to his career as a truck driver. His CB handle was, The Kansas Rebel. Recently, he said would have never made it as a truck driver in these modern times, because the logbooks were too accurate. Nathan shared that he used his “smart pencil” back in the day to make sure all of his I’s were dotted and T’s were crossed.   He often shared how he was one step ahead of the state troopers or the weigh stations.   He was proud of his profession and won several safety rings. He was often asked to take the difficult loads, as he was recognized as a truly skilled professional.

Driving truck came with a nationwide network of friends, each with their own story to tell. With every truck stop, he visited a good friend, much like sharing iced tea on a breezy summer day. When his health took him off the road, he shared his adventures with family and friends and anyone who would take the time to listen.

As a young man, his wanderlust manifested itself through fast cars and drag races.   He was always working on a car. He shared several stories of how his creative solutions to car repairs saved him from walking many miles. Of course, except for the times that it didn’t, and stories of those times made him smile just as much. In the 1970s, he earned a degree in auto mechanics. Cars were always a first love for him. He would talk about fast cars, races and racecar drivers, if he wasn’t talking about his adventures on the road. He carried that love to his final days as faithful fan of NASCAR.

He was fortunate to grow up in small town America where the village really did raise the children. He loved his family. His sisters were often convinced to join him in one shenanigan or another that often ended with a life lesson applied.

He was a cherished son and grandson.   He spoke often of his grandparents and kept their pictures close to him until his final day. Their lives and love for him were among his most cherished memories.

John met his wife, Barbara, at a 4-H baseball game. He noticed Barbara again at the 4-H dance and offered to drive her home. They started dating and were married on July 20, 1963.

He was not traditional as a family man. Life could be hard and health was not always good. During those times, he found his place as one of the originals ‘Foodies.’ His kids would come home to home-baked bread and fresh vegetables.   He was known for his Mexican food and infamous for his rabbit-ala-orange.

After his retirement, he pursued hobbies to keep busy and to continue his lifelong learning. One of the more memorable was hydroponics. He created a garden of tomato plants in his basement and hanging gardens for berries on his fence line. His granddaughter, Larissa, was fascinated watching him garden. When the time came, he bequeathed the hydroponic equipment to his eldest grandson with the condition that he would never grow anything inappropriate as his grandson lived in Colorado.

John was a blessing to his grandchildren in many ways. He was a steady presence in their lives. He was a man of stature and used that stature to make his grandkids feel safe and loved.   He shepherded his grandkids through the trials of life and the hurdles young ones go through in these modern times. His grandkids were able to tap into his silly side, too; a gentle teasing, a silly hat and a host of “dad” jokes and sayings will be memories that will live forever.

His granddaughter, Megan, described him as a “big macho man” that her four-year-old self could force him to go back into the kitchen to turn her peanut butter and jelly sandwich over so that it was made the “right” way.   You might say he was wrapped around her finger. The grandkids had that effect on him.

He was a man of strong faith. As a child, he attended the Methodist Church. He raised his family in the Christian Church. He returned to his Methodist roots after retirement. As his eyesight failed him, he would be found listening to religious programs daily.   He was recently asked by his eldest daughter what his favorite Bible verse was and he replied, “Ephesians 6 – children obey your parents.”   We may never know if that was his sense of humor or his faith talking.   Of course, that chapter also discusses putting on the full armor of God. He worked on this every day.

A memorial service will be at 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 5, at Petersen Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Dr. Diana Leaf presiding. Social distancing and mask protocols will be asked of attendees.

Memorial may be made to Kansas Christian Home, in care of Petersen Funeral Home, 215 North Main, Newton, Kan., 67114.