Norma Elaine Mills Culberson of Litchfield, celebrated 99 years of smiling relationships with almost everyone she met just before her recent death on Feb. 15, 2021, at Heritage Health in Litchfield. Mrs. Culberson was born in Pana, to Della Mae Cothern Mills and Albert Mills on Jan. 16, 1922. The youngest of five children, her father died when she was seven. She grew up in Pana with four older siblings, attending local schools, Lincoln School and Pana High School, playing clarinet in the band.
In 1938, she married Rex Culberson who was employed by the Kroger Company. After a brief stay in Effingham, they moved to Litchfield, where her husband managed the Kroger Company stores at three successive locations. After brief stays in several apartments, they moved to their home at 1404 N. Monroe Street in Litchfield, where they reared their family of five and stayed for more than 70 years. She worked part-time at Kroger, first in Litchfield with her husband and later in Hillsboro for many years, but her first priority was always their five children.
She and her husband, along with the children, were all fully engaged as Litchfield citizens, active members of the First Baptist Church and in numerous church and community activities. She taught Sunday school, sang in choir and often was part of the woman’s trio at the church (with Jewell Bishop and Irene Fite). She later volunteered as part of the decorating team at the remodeled FBC for many years. She was a member of New Hope Baptist Church.
For about 15 years, in the 60s and 70s, she joined her husband and other family members, performing in the “No Hope” musical-comedy shows, raising funds for local projects, including LHS Band Boosters and the Litchfield swimming pool. If she found a place she could fit in to serve others, she was there. In her middle and early senior years, she amassed more than 12,000 hours working as a volunteer at St. Francis Hospital. Throughout her life, whoever she met, she greeted with a smile.
Prior to retirement, she and her husband purchased land near the Kroger store, then on Union Ave., and the building occupied by Pizza Man, at that time. Pizza Man (another favorite family gathering place), was sold to current owners at a later date. They also rented a shoreline lot at Lake Lou Yaeger for many years, and she loved spending time at and on the lake with all of the children and grandchildren who would gather there for holidays most summers. After Rex Sr.’s death, she enjoyed vacationing with her family, traveling to several parts of the U.S. to share time together.
Mrs. Culberson was preceded in death by her husband Rex; two sisters, Hazel Askins and Onieta Truax; her brothers, Paul and Mayo Mills; her oldest son, Rex M. Culberson, Jr.; and a grandson, Chris Culberson.
She is survived by four children, Jim (Judy deceased) of Morgantown, WV, Dennis (Sharon) of Lexington, VA, Jeanne (Tom deceased) Cox of Ft. Worth, TX, and Debra Block of Towanda; and by her late son Rex’s wife, Judy Culberson (Litchfield). She was also blessed with 12 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
Memorial gifts may be made to the HSHS St. Francis Auxiliary. She and her family are grateful for the excellent, caring staff at Heritage Health in Litchfield who shared her life and care for her last several years.
Visitation will be held Saturday, Feb. 20, from 3 to 6 p.m. and a Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 p.m. with the Rev. Roy Eller officiating at Plummer Funeral Home in Litchfield. Interment will follow in Elm Lawn Cemetery. The family encourages guests to follow all CDC guidelines for masking and distancing. Online condolences may be left at www.plummerfuneralservices.com.