Lawrence Earl McCullers
January 6, 1933 – July 29, 2020
Lawrence Earl McCullers died on July 29, 2020.
He is survived by his wife of sixty-one years, Julia A. McCullers of Raleigh; three daughters, Ruth McCullers Lee (Keith) of Raleigh, Dr. Margaret M. Kocsis (Paul) of Cary, and Mary M. Reece (Mike) of Smithfield; and seven grandchildren, Kellyn and Henry Lee, Katelyn Jenkins, John and Julia Kocsis, and Gwyn and Jude Reece.
Earl McCullers, the son of Henry Ramon and Eva Johnson McCullers, was born in Smithfield in 1933. Ramon McCullers died in 1936, and Eva McCullers bravely embraced the responsibility of single-handedly raising her two young sons, Tyrus (6) and Earl (3), through challenging times that included the Great Depression and WWII.
Earl graduated from Smithfield High School, class of 1951, where he was captain of the football team, editor of the yearbook, and a member of “The Four Flats,” a barbershop quartet. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, class of 1956. He received his master’s degree in management from the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Commander McCullers was a career officer in the United States Navy, serving 28 years on active duty before retiring in 1980.
His naval career included assignments on ships, overseas, and on both coasts of the United States. He was stationed at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was a Vietnam veteran and served two years on a fast combat support ship in the combat zone. His awards included the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Navy Commendation Medal. He lived by the words of President John F. Kennedy, “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”
After retirement from the Navy, Commander McCullers and his family returned to Smithfield. He was a government services contractor for ten years, serving as fuels officer and supervising refueling operations at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, Willow Grove Naval Air Station, PA, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH, and Little Creek Amphibious Base, VA.
He served as a member and Chairman of the Board of Adjustment for the Town of Smithfield for nine years. He was a member of Centenary United Methodist Church in Smithfield, where he served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Church Council, treasurer, and usher. He served as treasurer for both the Smithfield Kiwanis Club and the Friends of the Library. He was also a member of American Legion Post 132 and VFW Post 5886 of Smithfield.
Earl is fondly remembered by all who knew him for his dry wit, life-long passion for music, and love of fishing, along with his fondness for cats. He had a talent for building and fixing things and enjoyed tinkering at his workbench. He loved to make pancakes for his grandkids and with the Methodist Men at Centenary UMC.
Earl McCullers died of COVID-19. In consideration of the dangers of COVID-19, there will be a ceremony for immediate family only, followed by burial with military honors in Smithfield.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield or Centenary United Methodist Church of Smithfield.
Arrangements by Brown-Wynne, 300 Saint Mary's Street, Raleigh.
- Public Library of Johnston County and Smithfield
- Centenary United Methodist Church of Smithfield
In consideration of the dangers of COVID-19, there will be a ceremony for immediate family only.
Lawrence Earl McCullers
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Elizabeth Anne Temple
August 5, 2020
I knew his daughters, one was in the band with me. I knew him and his wife from church and also my neighborhood. Nice family. I think that he was a veteran. I remember once he had ice cream for us in band over at their house. Good times! 🇺🇸
August 4, 2020
I worked with Earl in Dunn for the government contractor. He was a good person. I am sorry for your loss. Sammy King
August 3, 2020
My Heart is Broken for my beloved cousin, Julia, their children, grandchildren, other family members and friends. Earl was one of a dying breed. They don't make many like him. I will forever miss his stories and the times I spent in his company. My Prayers are with you all always. I love and miss you all.
August 2, 2020
We are saddened by his passing, but the memory of a happy, smiling gentleman will remain with us.
Ken and Laurie Dean
August 2, 2020
Ruth, we are thinking of you all at this time. I've enjoyed the stories of your dad that you've shared over the years, and know that he was dearly loved. He will always be part of you, never far away. We send many hugs and much love to you, your mom, Margaret, Mary and all of the family.
Sadie Phillips Jones
July 31, 2020
Julia and family, I am so sorry to hear of your loss. God will protect you and get you through this very sad time. I love you and my thoughts and prayers are certainly with you.