LONGVIEW — Donald Keith Cullen passed away July 10, 2013, at the age of 85. "Uncle Don" was born December 1, 1927, in Hallsville, to Joel B. Cullen Jr. and Linnie Perry Cullen. His parents and his loving sister, June Cullen Irwin, of Cleveland, Ohio, preceded him in death.
Don graduated from Hallsville High School, entered North Texas Agricultural College in 1944, and enrolled in the ROTC program, where he was a member of the "Singing Cadets". He then transferred to Kilgore Junior College for his second year and next enlisted in the U.S. Army
in August 1947. He was assigned to the Army Security Agency (ASA) and served at the Herzo Base near Nuremburg, Germany, until his discharge in 1950. He often spoke of his Army years and some of his lifelong Army buddies, including Bob DuBos from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Upon return to the U.S., he enrolled and finished his college career at the University of Texas
in Austin. His mother, Linnie, went back to work to pay for his tuition. After graduation, he taught history to junior high school students before taking up his career in aerospace and safety engineering. That occupation took him to Utah, where his group mixed and loaded solid rocket fuel for the Minute Man Missile, the Nation's first line of defense. From there he transferred to NASA's Michoud Plant in New Orleans to build the first stage of the Saturn rocket that put men on the moon.
In retirement, Don cared for his ailing mother and after her passing, he traveled far and wide with his sister, June, to such places as New Zealand and Australia. In later years, Uncle Don, always a lover of electronics, became quite the maven with his computer and corresponded daily with friends and family with e-mail letters and jokes. Up until the last year of his life, he enjoyed fully independent living at his home in Longview and particularly loved his brand new Mercedes.
He is survived by his nephews, Jim Irwin (Stephanie) of New Orleans and John Irwin (Nancy) of Cleveland; and his niece, Suzanne Emerson (Scott), also of Cleveland. "Uncle Don" had a grand total 18 nieces and nephews, including great and great-great. His first cousin and childhood best friend, Charles Ray Cain of Dallas, also survives Don; as does his cousin, Gayle Mauldin, from Hallsville.
The family wishes to express its gratitude to Don's dear neighbors, Jim and Bettie Wooldridge, who so generously and lovingly helped care for him these last few months.
A private service for family and friends will be held and burial will be in the Hallsville Cemetery. Don will rest next to his wonderful mother and father.