Jan 31st 1942 - Jun 2nd 2009
Compassionate, loving, dedicated, hardworking – these are just a few of many words that describe Jack Culp. A man who loved chess, weightlifting, woodworking, and most of all, his family. However, it was Jack’s contagious sense of humor and unconditional deeds of kindness that will be remembered by all who knew and loved him.
The world was not a very safe place the year that Jack was born. World War II showed little signs of abatement as more and more U.S. troops shipped out for Europe. Meanwhile, thousands of women stood united and labored to keep domestic industries running full steam. Jack Neil Culp began his life in the town of Schoolcraft, Michigan on January 31, 1942, the second of five children born to Vince and Mildred (Kimble) Culp. His childhood took place mostly within the comforts of the idyllic 1950s and was pretty normal in most aspects. His mother was a traditional homemaker, while his father earned a living in heating and air conditioning and as a chemical operator.
Jack loved to go outdoors as a child, pursuing all the “boy” activities he could. He ran track, played football and chess, rode motorcycles, and of course, got into his fair share of mischief pulling practical jokes. Jack received his education in the Schoolcraft Public Schools and after graduating in 1961, he went on to attend Ferris State College. Upon earning his Associates Degree in heating and air conditioning, Jack followed the same patriotic calling of other young men of the time, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He proudly served during the Vietnam War aboard the USS Regulus as an Electrician. An avid chess player, Jack was also the longtime standing chess champion in the Pacific Fleet, in the Class B rating.
Jack was in his late 20s when he married his first wife, Darrelyn Weed, and they had two beautiful daughters together: Dawn (1972) and Heather (1977). Unfortunately, their marriage later ended in divorce. Then, in 1982, Jack found love again when he met Beth through a friend, and romance blossomed between the two. Beth also brought her daughter, Angela, into the relationship, and Jack was only too happy to welcome her to
the family. The couple made their home together in Parchment and was happily married on June 1, 1991, in the Bronson Hospital Chapel. They later moved to Comstock Township, where they have resided for the last 11 years and were members of the Second Reformed Church.
Besides being a devoted husband and father, Jack was an excellent provider for his family, working for over 30 years at Western Michigan University as the Assistant Manager of Electrical Operations. After retiring from WMU in 1999, Jack put his skills to work around the house, building things, like a shed for the yard. He also loved to spend time in his swimming pool, read health books, learn the newest moves in chess or catch a good old “spaghetti” western or science fiction show on TV. One of his wife Beth’s favorite parts about him being retired was that he made breakfast and dinner just about every day. However, Jack still loved it when Beth made her fabulous pies, and upside down pineapple cake. Beth never let a day go by without telling Jack how much she appreciated his “housewife” skills.
For much of his life, Jack was a pretty regimented guy. He had a strict schedule he followed every day – it consisted of getting up, having a cup of coffee, “pushing wood”, which was his nickname for playing chess, and then heading to the gym. Like clock work, he started his workouts every morning at the Powerhouse Gym, then went to the West Hills Athletic Club, where he swam laps (for the last 25 years), and continued on to various other gyms until his morning routine was complete. Jack’s dedication to weightlifting really paid off for him as he was the Michigan Senior Olympic Bench Press Champion (300 lbs.) for multiple years from 2002 to 2007. Perhaps it was his persistence for perfection that kept him at the top of his game for so long!
On the lighter side, Jack was a real prankster who loved to joke and tease. He was truly a “kid at heart,” ready to share his mischievous ways with everyone around him. He was known for pinching his finger with a staple telling others to “feel this” or giving his grandson Jacob a mousetrap to play with. He also built comical stuff in his basement, like rubber band guns and dartboards affixed with someone’s picture – everyone was entertained by his antics. It was only natural that kids were drawn to Jack, especially when he got right down on their level to play with them.
On December 23, 2007, Jack was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent chemotherapy treatments throughout February and March 2008. He suffered with great pain with his treatments and was so thankful when he was able to get a celiac plexus block, which made him virtually pain-free from that moment on. Sadly, Jack lost his battle to cancer on Tuesday, June 2, 2009, at the age of 67.
Jack Culp truly knew how to enjoy, cherish and celebrate every moment that life had to offer. His kind deeds and loyal actions are an inspiration to those that knew and loved him. He will be deeply missed.
Learn more about Jack, view his Life Story film, and share in some refreshments with his family and friends on Thursday, June 4, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 375-2900. Services will be held on Friday, June 5, at 10:00 a.m. at the Second Reformed Church (2323 Stadium Drive). Burial will be at Schoolcraft Cemetery followed by a luncheon at the church hall.
Surviving is his wife of 18 years, Beth Culp; 3 daughters: Dawn Newnum, Heather (Daniel) Gibson and Angela (Dave) Soderquist; 3 grandchildren: Jacob, Magie and Abby; 4 siblings: Nancy (Ken) Anderson, Barbara (John) Fay, L. Fred (Pat) Sackett and Steve (Patty) Culp; and several nieces and nephews. Please visit Jack’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you may share a memory or photo with his family or sign his online guest book before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.