TERRE HAUTE —
A humble man with a heart for helping others is an apt description for Terre Haute resident Curtis B. Culver.
Culver died July 2 at age 94, leaving behind a legacy of missionary work and social involvement. His meetings with presidents, presidential candidates and political movers-and-shakers were well-documented in local and state media outlets during the 1960s and 1970s.
His youngest son, Curtis B. Culver II, told the Tribune-Star on Monday that he was thrilled to find photos of his father at a 1960 campaign stop by John F. Kennedy at the Vigo County Courthouse. And another undated photo shows him with President Lyndon B. Johnson at a gathering of labor union leaders.
The family scrapbook also includes photos of Culver with Sen. Birch Bayh, a letter of thanks from Marvella Bayh, and photos with the 113th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the U.S. Air Force, which was stationed at Hulman Field.
In June 2004, Culver was also honored with a Sagamore of the Wabash award from then-Gov. Joseph Kernan, who recognized him as the state president of the U.S. Federation of Postal Workers in the 1960s.
Culver also had a positive influence on many young people in the 1960s and 1970s, encouraging them to be socially active in public service opportunities. One of those young men, Cliff Lambert, recalled Monday that Culver made a big impact locally by advocating for the economically less-fortunate, and by endorsing labor organizations, service clubs and organizations such as Big Brother/Big Sister, and the Vigo County Mental Health Association.
“I remember that he would introduce me as a graduate student who lived in the Eugene V. Debs house,” Lambert told the Tribune-Star, smiling at the connection made to the turn-of-the-century labor advocate. “We used to go have breakfast on Saturday mornings with the operators of a local printing firm,” Lambert continued, “but one morning when we showed up at the business to meet our friends the owners, there was a picket line out front due to a labor dispute. Curtis wouldn’t cross the picket line, and I wouldn’t either.”
While Culver was a native of southern Illinois, he settled in Terre Haute near other family members after returning from service in World War II. He was a federal compliance officer for the General Services Administration, tasked with visiting offices and agencies to make sure they were complying with federal civil rights and employment laws.
His hobbies included golf and flying his private plane for many years.
But he also put service in action as a minister and missionary through area church congregations, visiting Costa Rica, Venezuela and Europe.
About 20 years ago, Culver took a missionary trip to the Republic of Latvia in the Baltic region of northern Europe. Culver’s family was the first American missionary group to reach the remote state of Rezekne, which is near the Russian border, said Egils Zaurins, who became a long-time friend of Culver.
Zaurins, his wife and two of his four children happened to be visiting relatives in the United State when they learned of Culver’s death last week. Zaurins said his family drove from Charlotte, N.C., to be at Monday’s visitation and funeral service at Calvary Temple on Maple Avenue.
Speaking about the positive impact that Culver had on the Latvian people that he met, Zaurins said the missionary family first arrived in the country’s capital of Riga, but then Culver asked to be sent where no other missionaries had gone.
“When they came to us they were the first Americans, and it was very interesting for people to see,” said Zaurins, who is a pastor in Rezekne. The rule of the Russian Communists had recently ended, he explained, but people were still nervous that the Communists would return and make trouble for those who befriended the Americans or who became Christians.
“They had boldness,” Zaurins said of Culver and family. That boldness was a striking contrast for the Latvians, who can be hesitant about reaching out to new people, he said.
“Only God knows how it helps when such people come,” Zaurins said.
The missionary family visited schools there, presenting Christian programs and singing in English to the children. But the Culvers also learned that in Latvia, food was not always easy to obtain, transportation was difficult and luggage was easy to lose.
Zaurins said he remembers that Culver visited Latvia five or six times, but as he got older, he wasn’t able to make the long trip to northern Europe. Himself a Latvian pastor, Zaurins said he was impressed by the stamina of Culver, who was doing missionary work at an advanced age that most Latvian people did not reach.
Pastor Kyle Andrews of Calvary Temple pointed out that Culver did much of his missionary work at an age when most people were retiring. When he was unable to make the international trips, Culver was still active in ministry in the Wabash Valley. Andrews said Culver helped start a church in Clinton, traveling there as assistant pastor and helping the congregation get established.
Though Culver had been a member at Calvary Temple only for the past 10 years, Andrews said, the man was very active in the church and he didn’t let much stop him.
Andrews recalled that more than a year ago, Culver got kicked in the face by a horse. That kind of injury would have crippled most older people, but Culver was back at church about two weeks later, the pastor said.
“He just seemed so invincible,” Andrews said.
Andrews recalled Culver has a humble man who did a lot but never “tooted his own horn” about it.
“He would help out with anything that needed to be done,” Andrews said. “He did a lot in his lifetime. Where most people talked about doing something, if he saw an injustice, he would do something about it and take care of it.”
Curtis B. Culver was laid to rest at Roselawn Memorial Park on Monday.
Veteran, missionary, labor advocate sought to rectify injustices
TERRE HAUTE —
A humble man with a heart for helping others is an apt description for Terre Haute resident Curtis B. Culver.
- Local & Bistate
Union Hospital cuts to come from support staff
The reduction of 150 employees in Union Health System by the end of this year will come from support staff, employees who do not have direct patient care duties, hospital administrators said today.
Ex-employee says prison workers had sex on desk
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that Indiana’s prison agency mistreated a female employee when it shrugged off her complaints about workers having sex on her desk and later fired her for having an affair with an official.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 23, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Tuesday and Wednesday, based on jail records.
Police say 2 killed in SW Indiana murder-suicide
BICKNELL, Ind. (AP) — Police say a man was fatally shot during an argument in a southwestern Indiana town and that the suspected gunman later killed himself while officers were pursuing him.
10-year-old bicyclist dies after truck hits him
WINONA LAKE, Ind. (AP) — Police in northern Indiana say a 10-year-old boy died after being hit by a pickup truck while riding a bicycle.
Photo Essay: Flowers & Nature
Ella Boyles, 3, watches as her grandmother Verdeana Boyles starts a flower arrangement during the JMG! Jammin! Muddin! & Growin! Jr. Master Gardener Program on Tuesday at the west branch of the Vigo County Public Library in West Terre Haute.
Study finds school scores rising — poverty too
While Vigo County’s educational scores outperform the state average, schools are seeing the impact of an increase in the number of children living in poverty, according to the national Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2014 “Kids Count.”
No more teacher-led prayer in Vigo schools
As the result of a complaint from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Vigo County School Corp. teachers and other staff will no longer be able to lead prayers during school-sponsored events.
Vigo school board candidate filing period begins today
Four of seven Vigo County School Board seats are up for election this year.
Six hurt in pickup crash on I-70
An accident on Interstate 70 that injured six people Tuesday afternoon is being attributed to mechanical failure.
Cops know where hoax call came from — next is who made it
Police have identified the location from which a bomb threat was made and mentioning The Meadows shopping center.
Parties fill openings on fall ballots
The face of the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election has changed slightly after a July 15 deadline for major parties to nominate candidates and independent candidates to file for positions that were left vacant after the May primary election.
Motorcyclist critical from head trauma after crashing bike
A Vigo County man remained hospitalized Tuesday in critical condition following a motorcycle accident on Monday evening.
Greene County woman dies from motorcycle wreck injuries
A Linton woman has died as the result of a motorcycle crash on Monday in Greene County on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
Man whose body found in trailer identified; how he died still undetermined
The body discovered inside a trailer in Montgomery County last month has been identified as a man whose last known address was in Clinton.
Vigo schools miss out on preschool programs for low-income students
Vigo County schools were not selected, but schools in Indiana’s three most populous counties were among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Drowning confirmed as cause of death at Raccoon Lake
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful after his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
WTH house fire under investigation
No injuries were reported in a West Terre Haute house fire that is under investigation.
Body found in trailer identified as Vermillion County man
Authorities have identified the person whose body was discovered last month in a trailer that had recently been moved from Vermillion County. Indiana State Police, using DNA testing, identified the body as that of Shane L. Sowers, 41, whose last known address was on North Sixth Street in Clinton
Driver charged in Will County crash that killed 4
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — A semitrailer driver involved in crash that killed four people southwest of Chicago was driving too fast and falsified entries in a logbook tracking the number of hours he spent behind the wheel, authorities said today.
Indiana chooses 5 counties for preschool program
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s three most populous counties are among five chosen for a pilot program that will allow low-income children in those areas to attend preschool as early as next year.
Update: Bomb threat suspect placed call from pay phone
Police have identified the location from where a bomb threat was made referencing The Meadows shopping center.
Update: Man critical following Vigo motorcycle crash
A Vigo County man remains hospitalized in critical condition following a Monday evening motorcycle accident.
Vigo County Jail Log: July 22, 2014
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.
Indiana makes marginal improvement in ‘Kids Count’
A new national report says the well-being of Indiana’s children has improved somewhat, but improvement in a key area might be overstated because of a quirk in the state’s reading rules.
Lowe’s expected to announce Indianapolis facility
Home-improvement retailer Lowe’s is expected to announce what state officials are calling a major development in Indianapolis.
Motorcyclist airlifted after Vigo County crash
A motorcycle crash in southern Vigo County remains under investigation.
Fire damages West Terre Haute house
A West Terre Haute house fire is under investigation.
Passenger dies in Greene County motorcycle wreck
A Linton woman has died in a Monday motorcycle crash on Indiana 157 north of Worthington.
UPDATE: Man dies in Raccoon Lake drowning
A Veedersburg man has died after resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful following his drowning Monday at Raccoon Lake in Parke County.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- Union Hospital cuts to come from support staff