Helen Prillaman McCullough

July 13, 1936January 22, 2021

Obituary for Helen Prillaman McCullough

Helen Prillaman McCullough, 84, died on January 22, 2021 at King’s Grant Retirement Community. Helen was born July 13, 1936, the daughter of Alton Andrew and Lena Carter Prillaman, in Franklin County, Virginia. She is preceded in death by her brothers, Richard Prillaman and Alton Wythe Prillaman.

Helen graduated from Bassett High School, class of 1955. She attended National Business College in Roanoke, Virginia, and soon thereafter moved to Arlington, Virginia, where she began her decades long career with the Bureau of Land Management within the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC. It wasn’t long before she met her husband, Douglas LeRoy McCullough, and for the next 47 years, wherever Helen went, Doug was sure to follow; and vice-versa. No couple has been more committed to each other’s contentment and happiness. Helen is survived by her husband, Doug; her daughter, Dina Lynn McCullough and her wife, Jennifer Liner; and her granddaughter, Jordan Thayer McCullough. Helen is also survived by two sisters, Nancy Hale and Judy Hundley, as well as a number of beloved nieces, nephews and grandnieces and nephews.

After both retired early from the Federal Government, Doug followed Helen to Roanoke, Virginia, where she could be closer to her family. She and Doug devoted many years to real estate development in Roanoke and then subsequently in and around Smith Mountain Lake, where they officially retired. Being close to family was extremely important to Helen…you could always find her at family gatherings laughing hysterically with her siblings, her nieces and nephews and their children. Helen also relished being a grandparent and spending time with her granddaughter. Helen’s family will remember that even as a young person, she was devoted to the care of her family. From making sure her little sisters’ dolls had newly sewn garments from Santa Claus to ensuring that nieces and nephews had support in being educated, Helen was a champion for her family. She possessed a strong will and determined outlook that helped everyone in her family through difficult times.

In all things, Helen and Doug were solid partners and undertook both work and play in the joy of one another’s presence. Every winter for about a decade, Helen followed Doug to South Florida, so he could be closer to the fish. Helen treated all who visited to wonderful tours of the natural wildlife, flora and fauna, and history of the area. Helen relished sharing the whereabouts of the manatee, bald eagles, every bird imaginable and even the baby alligators!

Many of Helen’s family and friends have shared how much they loved and looked forward to her annual holiday letter. She so eloquently shared the ups and downs of any given year and, depending on the topic, made you feel like you had either enjoyed or endured it right alongside her. Those intimate stories often included tales about their many travels around North America in their RV and the wildlife they encountered and thoroughly enjoyed photographing; as well as the highlights of their family’s lives too.

A virtual celebration of Helen’s life will be held on Sunday, February 28, 2021, at 3:00pm ET.

Please register in advance for this service:

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Samuel and Tristan Pilson Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides a scholarship each year to a Bassett High School Senior who demonstrates a commitment to living a life of service. The fund is in the care of Fidelity Bank, 3300 Virginia Avenue, Collinsville, VA, 24078, and donations may be made by check. In addition, donations may also be made in her name directly to St. Jude’s Hospital (


28 February

A virtual celebration of Helen’s life

3:00 pm


Please register in advance for this service:


Helen Prillaman McCullough

have a memory or condolence to add?

Renee Prillaman

January 30, 2021

I am fortunate to have been one of those nieces who was a benefactor of my Aunt Helen's deep love and fierce support. For as long as I can remember, Aunt Helen encouraged me to be reach high and work hard. She was an advocate for me reaching my highest aspirations. Aunt Helen and Uncle Doug were always made sure that I and my children had access to a good education. Every Christmas I could count on receiving a book from them. That tradition continued when Caitlin and Andrew were born and their childhood book collections contain multiple volumes about wildlife autographed by Helen and Doug. I love memories of adventures in Washington DC, at the lake and in Florida with Helen and Doug. Their curiosity about everything from history to geology to wildlife was contagious. My Aunt Helen's determination and strong will run deep in my own spirit. I am ever grateful for her.

Kristie Huber

January 28, 2021

Helen and Doug were like family to me when I was a teenager and best friends with Dina in middle/high school. She was the most organized lady with an exact amount of cans lined up in the pantry of each item, making it very difficult to sneak anything past her! In the house they lived in near Garst Mill Park, there was a mother-in-law suite, and Helen had made some DELICIOUS brownies and hidden them in the fridge of the suite’s kitchen. Dina and I found them and thought we were sly and finally getting away with something sneaky by having a few brownies without her knowing, which made them all the more tasty. Later that day, Helen nonchalantly said, if you girls are going to eat the brownies, at least don’t leave a trail of crumbs. That was Helen- she knew all along and let us have our moment- and she wanted us to know we still didn’t get one over on her. She will be greatly missed by this world. My sincerest condolences to Doug, Dina, Jen, Jordan and all of her wonderful family. May peace be with you.

Ellen Gail Hairston

January 26, 2021

Judy and Nancy
I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Helen fondly. Your family is in our thoughts.

Phyllis Liner

January 25, 2021

I was so sorry to hear of Helen's passing. I knew she was ill but didn't think the end of her life would come so soon.
I love this photo of Helen. I remember the day and event very well as it was on the occasion when our two families would be united on the occasion of the wedding of Dina and Jennifer. lt was a wonderful day all around.
I enjoyed talking to Helen and Doug over the years and I am sorry those times have ended. I do have very fond memories of those occasions though.
May she rest in peace!
Phyllis Liner