Obituary of Peter MacLean Culley
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Peter MacLean Culley, 93, passed away peacefully on November 27, 2022 in Greenville, SC with both his daughters by his side. Peter was born in Los Angeles, California on October 19, 1929. His family moved to nearby Hermosa Beach shortly after he was born as a result of the depression. Peter’s family also spent a great deal of time at his uncle George’s cattle and guest ranch “Rancho Linda Vista” in Oracle, AZ. Peter lived at the ranch during his father’s battle with illness and it became a very special place in his heart. After Peter’s father passed away in 1941, he went sent back east to attend prep school. He had many happy memories at The Adirondack-Florida School (now the Ransom-Everglades School). It offered a very unique opportunity to split the year between the mountains of New York and the beaches of Coconut Grove, Florida. It was education anchored in nature and was dedicated to self-reliance and developing multiple areas of intelligence. This unique education during the difficult time of World War II had a lasting impact on Peter and fostered a love and appreciation for the outdoors and an opportunity to experience many interests not offered in traditional schools, especially during the war. It also gave him the chance to spend a portion of his summers with his extended family in the Adirondack mountains. One of his favorite memories was spending the night in a canoe on the lake with his mother so they could wake up at various points throughout the night and chart the stars and constellations as they traversed the sky. For his later school years Peter moved to Massachusetts to attend St. Mark’s, and upon graduating in 1948, returned to Arizona to attend the University of Arizona (also his father’s alma mater). It was there Peter would meet the love of his life: Elizabeth Hohmann, recently arrived from Wisconsin. He spotted her in a crowd at a social event and was smitten. Peter asked a good friend to make introductions and in 1954 he and Elizabeth were married at his cousin Boyd Wilson’s nearby “Falcon Valley Ranch” where they spent many happy times together. Shortly after Peter was sent off to serve in the Air Force in Nagoya, Japan where he and Elizabeth would spend the early years of their marriage. Needless to say it was quite the adventure for two young newlyweds and an experience that would influence the rest of their lives — particularly their love of travel and experiencing other cultures. They returned to the U.S. in 1958 and settled back in their beloved AZ where they would spend the next 57 years together in Paradise Valley. They raised their daughters and enjoyed a beautiful life together. Peter had a life-long career in mortgage banking with H.S. Pickrell Company and retired in 1990. After his retirement he continued working in private real estate investment for over twenty years. He also served as a Director of Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company in New York from 1983 to 2002 as well as serving on multiple committees. Peter and Elizabeth loved to travel and did so frequently throughout their 67 years of marriage. Their adventures took them to Japan, Fiji, Africa, and all across Europe. One of their favorite trips was their annual December pilgrimage to NYC with their dear friends to see the new Broadway shows and their favorite: the Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular. A trip they did together for decades. Peter had an incredible life and he lived it with unbridled joy and passion. He had an incredible sense of humor and was legendary for his ready smile and boundless positive attitude. To say he looked at life with a “glass half full” attitude is an understatement. Peter Culley’s glass was always overflowing. You only had to be around him for a few minutes to grasp his infectious love of life. His mother was fond of saying “ life is tough enough, you have to have a sense of humor, and more importantly a sense of the ridiculous” and clearly Peter took these words to heart. He was a consummate prankster, but he was always careful his fun never came at anyone else’s expense. He just truly loved life and embraced each and every moment and he made sure all who were around him enjoyed the good times along with him. Peter was an avid tennis player, even the hottest Arizona summer days couldn’t stop him from hitting the courts. He famously played with another intrepid friend one day when it was 120 degrees out, (though he readily admitted they could only make it through one set). He loved the desert, but also adored the ocean and being on the water. He was a legendary body surfer and made sure to pass that tradition on to everyone in the family. He thoroughly enjoyed water skiing and celebrated his 80th birthday by doing so on Lake Lure in NC. Without a doubt everyone who knew him was well aware of his favorite hobby of course: the fireworks! Peter was absolutely legendary for his incredible pyrotechnics displays and was often asked to do them for friends’ milestone event celebrations; requests he was only too happy to accommodate! Not a single holiday would go by without some sort of fireworks display or the firing of his infamous cannon (which is still proudly in the family). Peter was also famous for his perfection in yard work. He spent every weekend maintaining their “putting green style” lawn and manicured yard with bountiful potted flowers. To say he lived life on his own terms is an understatement. From his beloved monogrammed button downs to his infamous collection of plaid or wildly-colored pants, to his passion for great wine, food and music. He always marveled at how something as simple as a food and wine had the incredible ability to bring people together. He loved all music and usually played it much louder than Elizabeth (or anyone else) could tolerate. He loved anything with a good beat, and was especially fond of jazz and large scale symphonies like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture (especially because of the cannons !). He was well known for breaking out in song on a regular basis, often singing lyrics of his very own making. When his daughters were young he ended every night by serenading them to sleep with a selection of his favorite Burl Ives songs. He was famous for his singing even in his final days which brought smiles and joy to everyone around him. Although Peter and Elizabeth adored AZ with a passion, they could not bear to be so far from their beloved grandchildren in SC. They made the decision to move to Greenville in 2015. Their time with them had an incredible impact on Maclean and Elizabeth. They loved being together and Peter was a consummate story teller and loved sharing great stories of his lifetime, his love of great music, jokes, old memories and his family’s history which was so important to him. He also shared his favorite family tradition--the finer nuances of pyrotechnics! Growing up in the depression and losing his father as a young boy he knew how to cherish the important things in life—family and friends. He always reminded his daughters the people you love are the most important things you will ever have in life. Everything else is just a possession. That was evident in how he lived his life, especially as a husband, father and friend. He was absolutely the most devoted and loving husband to Elizabeth. They were truly inseparable and were almost like each other’s shadows. He was the most adored, loving, and fun father to Erin and Sharman and he was an unbelievable grandfather and best friend to both his grandchildren. He has been described by those who knew him as “a classic”, “timeless”, “a legend” or “an icon”. He was patient, kind, understanding and an incredible listener. He always gave the best advice and was never critical. He was a father figure to countless friends and extended family members. He was lovingly known as “Mr. C” to many, and simply “Boppa” to his family. He was thrilled beyond words to have the gift of a long and wonderful life and to watch his beloved grandchildren grow up to young adulthood in his presence. The lasting impact he had on his entire family just cannot be adequately described. Peter will be remembered for many things, but his love of life, his positive attitude and his incredible sense of humor have left a lasting mark on all who knew him. He lived a life of complete happiness and joy regardless of the circumstances and was an example to us all of how life should truly be lived. Peter regularly reminded his family in his final year of life “Isn’t life is just amazing? I was married to the love of my life for 67 years and we both lived to see 90 together--and we managed to be in pretty darn good health overall. Wow, what an incredible life!” Peter was preceded in death by his wife Elizabeth Hohmann Culley, his parents Grant Burdette Culley and Dorothy Knox Wilson, and his brothers Knox Hudson Culley and Grant Burdette Culley Jr. He is survived by his daughters Erin MacLean Culley and Sharman Culley Armstrong, grandchildren Elizabeth Jane Armstrong and Maclean Culley Armstrong, and sons-in-law Richard Carlson and Stutts Armstrong. A private family service was held in Greenville, SC in December. Peter’s extended family plan to return to Arizona to host a reception celebrating the lives of both Peter and Elizabeth sometime in 2023. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation in his memory to the ARCS Phoenix Chapter (an organization Peter and Elizabeth proudly supported): ARCS Foundation Inc. Phoenix Chapter 3104 E. Camelback Road, PMB 975 Phoenix, AZ 85016 https://phoenix.arcsfoundation.org/
A Memorial Tree was planted for Peter
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Fletcher Funeral & Cremation Service
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1929 - 2022
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