Harry David Culley (1935 - 2016)

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Harry David Culley passed peacefully from this life on Dec. 30, 2016.
Dave was born on Sept. 9, 1935, in Brookville, Pa., near the family farm in the Allegheny Mountains. He was the third of five children to Hallie (Roberts) Culley and Harry B. Culley. The family soon moved to DuBois, Pa., where Dave graduated from DuBois High School in 1953.
Growing up, he ran a successful paper route, hunted, fished and enjoyed many sports. Dave was a 6'6" defensive and offensive tackle and a proud starting member of the DHS 1952 Conference Champion football team, which went undefeated and unscored upon for the entire year. That amazing record stands to this day. Dave earned a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BS in Mathematics from Lafayette College in 1958, where he played football and earned the nickname "Buff," for buffalo, as a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. After graduation, he taught statistics and mathematics at both Lafayette and Rutgers University, where he earned his MS in Statistics and Probability in 1961.
While in college, Dave met his wife of 35 years, Sara Kathryn Vallely Culley, at a dance at the Polaski Club in DuBois. Sara had graduated from Saint Catherine's High School in 1954. Though it was a small town, they grew up on separate "hills" and never met until that evening. The young couple began their family while both were still in college and living apart, with Sara earning her BS RN from St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing in Erie, Pa., in 1958. They were propelled out into the world from that humble beginning, by the force of their determination and shared sense of adventure. They went on to have four daughters.
As a father, Dave valued education and intellectual pursuits above all else. He drove his daughters hard to achieve their greatest potentials. He was always available to help with homework or to talk about challenges and lofty goals. He cherished and supported his extended family foremost throughout his lifetime and was quick to remind that, in the end, there is only family.
Upon completing his education, Dave began a successful career on the ground floor of the emerging electronics industry. He worked for Fairchild Semiconductor from 1962-1967 in Mountain View, Calif., then for General Electric Company from 1967-1980, in Auburn, N.Y., Gainseville, Fla., and Philadelphia, Pa. He retired as the EVP of GE Electrical Products Division after managing manufacturing businesses on five continents. He travelled the exotic corners of the world in those years and took the time to enjoy much of its wonders. His Japanese business partners called him "The Big Samurai." He was a fierce competitor. Following GE, Dave enjoyed C-level positions with AMF in Washington, D.C. and Eagle Industries National, in Rochester, N.Y. In Rochester, he met and married his second wife of five years, Marlena Megenity.
Dave developed a deep knowledge of wine and gourmet cooking over the years. He carefully built a spectacular wine cellar of 5,000 bottles that he eventually sold at The Christies Wine Auction in 1993. He loved to entertain his friends and share great food and wines over even greater stories and music. He liked to blast Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, and Verdi, among others. He was a lifelong student of 20th century political history, a fabulous, in-demand jitterbug dancer and a single-digit handicap golfer who won many a championship. He was first off the tee on most weekend mornings at the club. He financed graduate school extras with his stone cold poker face and became a Life Master Bridge player too.
In his 60s, Dave travelled North America extensively in his motorhome with his beloved dog, Sven. They saw the beautiful sights as far north as the Arctic Circle, keeping diaries of their adventures that we cherish. Dave was terrifically funny and could make any of us laugh out loud to the last days of his life.
He saw the best in people, with a refreshing optimism and faith in his fellow man. He was generous and offered a hand or an opportunity to many in need through the years.
Dave eventually retired to Gainesville, Fla., and then moved to live with his youngest daughter, Beth, and her family in Lynn Haven, Fla. There Dave was blessed to enjoy happy years helping with his two beautiful granddaughters, participating in many of their school and sports activities and watching them grow up. He also spent good times with his companion, Betty Sutliff, who added much joy and tenderness to his last years. Dave's lap was also well-warmed by his three dogs who helped him read or watch a good movie. Beth, her husband Brett, Betty and Mark Culuris each dedicated themselves to providing daily care and support for Dave in his final years. Dr. Jennifer Culley kindly provided medical oversight and trusted advice through the years as Dave's beloved niece and family doctor. The family is forever grateful for all of their loving gifts of compassion and time for Dave. He passed a contented and loved man.
Dave is survived by his four daughters: Cindy (Vince) DiMassimo of Summit, N.J., Sara Culley of Scotts Valley, Calif., Mary (Scott Smith) Culley of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Elizabeth (Brett) Oltman of Lynn Haven, Fla.; his five grandchildren: Jack DiMassimo, Sara DiMassimo, Ruby Ludford, Mary Grace Oltman and Sadie Oltman; his two brothers, Dr. Gregory (Donna) Culley and Kent (Merle) Culley; his numerous loving nieces, nephews and cousins.
He was predeceased by his parents; his two sisters, Doris Senior Snow and MaryEllen Shope Lifter; and his first wife, Sara Vallely Culley.
Dave requested his ashes be spread in his touchstone places on this earth; the Harbor Town 17th hole lagoon on Hilton Head Island, S.C., and in the waters off Pebble Beach Golf Course in Carmel, Calif.
In lieu of flowers, please raise a glass, smile and share a great story about Dave.
Published in The Courier Express on Jan. 22, 2017