Miss Helen Mae Culp, 89, died Saturday, January 28, 2017 at Park Pointe Village. The funeral service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4 at Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church, with Reverend Jane Summey Mullinnex officiating. Burial will be at 1:00 p.m. at Laurelwood Cemetery.
Born on the Winthrop College Campus in Rock Hill, Miss Culp was a daughter of the late Leonard Parks Culp and the late Caroline Smith Culp. She graduated from Winthrop Training School in 1944 and Winthrop College in 1948. She was preceded in death by her sisters, Marcia C. McCarty and Louise C. Lesslie; brothers, Joe B. Culp, Lt. Col. J. Lewis Culp, and William L. "Bill" Culp, Sr; and two close friends, Marguerite Sapp and George Trumbull.
Helen taught in the Kingstree Schools, then in 1951 became the first full-time band director for Dillon County School District Two, where she served the students and the community until her retirement in 1981. Under her direction, the Dillon High School Band participated in many state events twice winning the S.C. state marching band championship. The Dillon High School "Marching Cats" gained national recognition through parade and festival performances. Among them are the Cherry Blossom Festival and 1976 Bicentennial Parade in Washington, D.C.; the Greatest Bands in Dixie Parade at the Mardi Gras in New Orleans; and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. They also performed several times at Walt Disney World and Darlington's Southern 500.
Among her many career honors are the 1979 Dillon County Star Teacher Award and the Business Women's Career Woman of the Year Award. In 1996, she was inducted into the South Carolina Music Educators Association Hall of Fame. She is also the recipient of 1992 Phi Beta Mu Outstanding Contributor Award. In 2006, she received the Order of the Palmetto, the state's highest civilian honor which is bestowed by the Governor for a lifetime of exceptional dedicated service to South Carolina.
In addition to her career in music education, Miss Culp was a commercial artist and owner of Culp-Craft Custom Designs until 2008.
Surviving are her nieces Joyce McCarty Brown, Caroline Culp Carrillo, Linda McCarty Liddicoatt, Dorothy Culp Farmer, and Jane Lesslie Culp; and her nephews, James B. Culp, Charles T. Culp, Robert L. Culp, William L. Culp, Jr., Samuel S. McCarty, John M. Lesslie, Jr., and Leonard G. Lesslie; a number of great nieces and nephews, and Gypsi, the last of her seven German Shepherds. She also leaves hundreds of students who were her "band children."
The family wishes to express special appreciation to caregiver Melissa Myers of Senior Helpers and the staff of WillowBrooke Skilled Care, Park Pointe Village. Memorials may be made to Oakland Avenue Presbyterian Church, 421 Oakland Avenue, Rock Hill, SC. 29730 or Hospice and Community Care, P.O. Box 993 Rock Hill, S.C. 29731.
Published in The Herald on Feb. 1, 2017.