Longevity at its finest: Betty Culp turns 100

Published 12:10 am Sunday, May 21, 2023

SALISBURY — Most people can only imagine making it to their 100th birthday, but for one local lady, it became a reality on Wednesday.

Betty Culp was born in East Spencer on May 17, 1923. She moved around as a youngster because her father was a car inspector for the railroad. Although they spent a few years in Asheville, she returned to Rowan County at the age of 12.

Culp graduated from high school in 1940 and married her husband, Harding Culp, in 1941.

“We went to York, South Carolina, to get married,” Culp said.

She joked that they dropped the “g” off her husband’s name since everyone knew him as Hardin.

They built a house on North Long Street in East Spencer and started planning a family. Within a few years, the Culps had their first child, a daughter, Diane. Then in 1946, Sharon came along. Two years later, they had their first son, Jerry, and in 1950, their family became whole when Benny arrived.

Benny’s two sons, Greg and Brian, became famous around Rowan County for their burgers. Greg bought Hap’s Grill from Hap Alexander, and Brian opened Brian’s Grill in China Grove with a similar concept. Her family tree only continued to grow. She has nine grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.

While young and raising a family, Culp’s husband worked for the railroad and was gone a lot. Culp finally learned how to drive a car at the age of 30.

“I took the boys all over from Charlotte to Greensboro,” Culp said.

Culp dealt in antiques, although she said she only made a little money doing it.

“I just loved old things,” Culp said.

After her husband retired, Culp said they decided “money wasn’t everything,” and they bought a camper and started traveling. They took that camper everywhere. Culp boasts of having been to every state in the contiguous U.S. and of a trip south of the border to Cancun, Mexico. One of her favorite places to go was Key West, Florida.

Culp’s husband passed away in 1999. They were married for 58 years.

A lifelong Methodist, Culp indicated that she reads her Bible every day.

“It’s the way I live my life, and it works,” Culp said. At 100 years old, she must be on to something. Culp has bookmarks with Bible verses that she gives to visitors at Brookdale Senior Living in Salisbury.

She misses tending to her garden and working in the yard. One of her favorite things to do was pull weeds.

“I’d rather work in the yard than inside any day,” Culp said.

Unfortunately, Culp doesn’t get to garden anymore, but she still shares flowers and other gifts whenever possible.

“I like to give things away,” Culp said. “If it makes me happy, I hope it will make them happy, too.”