Longtime Grovetown resident Morris Dean “Mike” Culbertson, 92, passed away early on the morning of Sunday, April 25, 2021 at the Pruitt Health Old Capitol Nursing Home in Louisville, GA. He had been in hospice care since April 16.
Memorial services will be held on Saturday, May 8, 2021 from 2 until 4 p.m. at Starling Funeral Home in Harlem, GA. Interment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined.
The youngest of seven children born to William Homer Culbertson and Anna Irene (Boaz) Culbertson, he was the first of his family to be born in a hospital, coming into the world on November 29, 1928 in Vandalia. He grew up on a farm in Sharon Township, near the village of Vera in Fayette County.
Morris was never known by his first name and was called Dean by his family and childhood friends. When he started work as a teenager, his boss thought he “looked too Irish to be a Morris” and decided to call him Mike, a nickname that lasted more than 70 years.
After graduating from Vandalia High School in 1946, he met Helen Adams of Glen Ellyn, through a mutual friend. Her family moved to Portsmouth, VA in 1948, but they kept up correspondence. When Mike joined the Navy, he was assigned to the commissioning crew of USS Newport News (CA-148) in Norfolk, VA, right next to Portsmouth. Helen and her sister were his guests when the ship was commissioned in January 1949. Mike and Helen were married in July 1950.
As the end of his four-year enlistment neared, President Truman extended all enlistments by a year. By the end of that extra year the young Culbertsons were expecting their first child, so they decided to stay in the Navy. Mike received an appointment as a Warrant Officer in 1958 and was commissioned an Ensign in the Supply Corps in 1960. He retired from the Navy as a Commander in 1977 in Jacksonville, FL.
After leaving the Navy, Mike turned his avocation of furniture refinishing into a business. In the early 1980s the Culbertsons decided to relocate. After an extensive search from New Hampshire to Florida, they found the old Magruder house on Wrightsboro Road in 1984. They lived there together until Helen passed away in 1999, and Mike stayed there until the house got to be too big for him in 2010.
On his 84th birthday in 2012, Mike suffered an injury to his spinal cord that made it impossible for him to live by himself anymore. After a six-month stretch in three medical facilities he moved in with his son Michael and Michael’s wife Colleen, who had moved from Maryland to Augusta to help out. He improved so much that he was able to move to Benton House, an assisted living facility in Augusta, in 2017.
He is survived by his son Sgt. Maj. Michael Culbertson, US Army Retired, and wife Colleen of Augusta; son Capt. Matthew Culbertson, US Navy Retired, and wife Carol of Carlisle, PA; granddaughter, Rachel Culbertson and partner Martin Faust of Los Angeles, CA; grandson, Andrew Culbertson and wife Tayler of Charlotte, NC; and a whole passel of nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents, sisters Hazel Sperry, Marie Crawford, and Bonnie Smith, and brothers Albert, Eugene, and Lowell Culbertson.
The family would like to express gratitude to the many people who cared for Mike during the past eight years. The medical professionals of the Spinal Cord Injury Unit and the Spinal Cord Injury Clinic at Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center, and at Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon are truly outstanding. Pruitt Health Old Capitol Nursing Home and the Pruitt Health Hospice Service has caring and helpful people, as do Comfort Keepers and Trinity Home Health. Special thanks are due to Mr. Grant Hall, who is a wonderful caregiver and became part of Mike’s family.