Wilder, Vt. — William Joseph Culp died peacefully at home on Sunday, May 26, 2013, cared for to the end by his wife, Posie Taylor, loving family and closest friends. Bill was born on August 20, 1939 in Omaha, Neb. and moved as a young boy to Oregon, a place he loved his whole life. He was raised by his Mom, Betty Way Culp, his adopted and beloved father, Donald Lester Culp, and his fiery grandmother, “Mom Way.” Bill was the oldest of three children, followed by his brother Michael and his sister Barbara.
Bill graduated in 1963 from Lewis and Clark College in Portland. In 1964, he married Megan Morrison in Stockton, Calif. Bill and Megan’s more than 30-year marriage resulted in two sons; Peter William, born in California in 1972, and Matthew Donald, born in New Hampshire in 1976. Bill and Megan began their lives together with a move to Austin, where Bill received his PhD in Biochemistry. After completing his degree in 1970, he and Megan moved to La Jolla, Calif. where Bill was appointed Damon Runyan Memorial Fund Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurobiology, and later an assistant professor, at the prestigious Salk Institute for Biological Studies. In 1974, Bill was recruited to an assistant professorship, and later an associate professorship, in the Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) Biochemistry Department in Hanover, New Hampshire.
After 20 years of work as a medical research scientist, Bill spent a year as a Fellow at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, completing an MBA in 1986. He returned to the Dean’s office at DMS to serve in a variety of leadership positions, including Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and as one of the original visionaries of the new Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center campus. Bill was instrumental in hiring many of DMS’s leaders and in the establishment of the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth, the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, and the C. Everett Koop Institute.
Bill had a distinguished career as a researcher, authoring more than 45 scientific papers and other publications on biochemistry, neuroscience, pain pathways and nerve disorders that helped to reduce the suffering of this world. He was first and foremost, however, a teacher and a lover of the life of the mind. He had a theory for nearly everything, and a depth of knowledge to match. He brought his love of teaching to his sons, filling their childhoods with diagrams and explanations of physics, engineering, medicine, and a hundred other disciplines. In his professional life, he trained generations of medical students in biochemistry and the neurosciences.
As a teacher, he became known as a man who would never give up on anyone, helping many students who were struggling to cope with the intellectual and personal challenges of medical school. As an administrator and leader, he was known as a creative problem-solver who helped to bring faculty to consensus and calm troubled institutional waters. He retired from DMS in 2006, leaving a legacy that lives on today with his friends, colleagues and others who carry on his important work.
Along the way, Bill gathered a circle of life-long friends who have admired and followed him through his life. After his retirement, the only thing he loved more than afternoons of reading and quiet contemplation were his many conversations, adventures, and shared humor with his friends.
Bill loved being with our family, especially his sons, Peter and Matthew. When each of his boys turned 16, Bill took a summer off for an extended bike trip down the Pacific Coast. Along the way, they dodged logging trucks, slept in seaside campgrounds and met many other adventurers – and built lifelong memories together.
In the 1990’s, Bill met Posie Taylor, and soon began the process of further expanding our family. Bill and Posie married in 2000, officially uniting an already close-knit if unconventional group that includes Bill’s two sons, his former wife and close friend Megan, Posie’s daughter, Jenn, her partner, Michael and daughter Kate (who gave Bill his favorite name: Grampsie), Jenn’s former husband, Chris, Posie’s sister Kate, Peter’s wife Susan, and Matthew’s wife Joanna, along with their children, Will, Molly, and Bill’s new grandson Andrew William, born this past October. Andrew has become a world-traveler already, joining his Grampsie from his present home in Belgium on two occasions.
Our family will cherish the memories of time spent time together at Ohana Camp on Lake Fairlee, enjoying the water and the view from the Lodge. We celebrated holidays and birthdays together, cheered each other’s successes and worried and cared for each other when times were hard. Through it all, Bill was the wise counsel and the calming voice that gave us strength. We will deeply miss his presence, but know his loving, generous spirit will guide us still.
We are so grateful to our dear friend, Jenny Littlewood, who cared for Bill with love and humor over these last years. Matt, Angela, Linda, Margaret, and Peggy of the VNA and Hospice of the Upper Valley were such a source of support and we love them! The experience of being with our family and these wonderful caregivers helped make our last weeks with Bill an occasion of gratitude and joy.
During his tenure at DMS, Bill often quietly provided aid to students in need. In this spirit, and in Bill’s honor, a memorial fund has been established at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. The fund will be used to support students who are facing unique challenges in their medical education, where a small investment will make a big difference to their success. Gifts in Bill’s memory may be made to the Dr. Bill Culp Memorial Fund, c/o Geisel School of Medicine, Dean’s Office, 1 Rope Ferry Rd., Hanover N.H. 03755. Notes of remembrance may be posted at www.knightfuneralhomes.com.
We will gather to celebrate Bill’s life on September 29th in true Culp style. The celebration will take place at 2 p.m., at the Ohana Camp on Lake Fairlee. Further details will be posted in the Valley News in August.