Pearl E Forsey Culp
May 10, 1921 – November 13, 2021
On November 13th, 2021, another member of the Greatest Generation passed away. Our beautiful and gracious mother had a life well lived during an incredible and turbulent time in world history. Her lifelong friendships, dedication and love to family and travel throughout the world were pillars to this great woman’s life. We would all be spellbound listening to the stories of her youth in Virginia and her life with Father prior to our birth.
Mother was born on May 10, 1921, in Roanoke, Virginia, the daughter of Myrtle Branham and Alonzo M. Epling. She was an only child and growing up in Virginia was full of many wonderful experiences which included spending summers at their cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains at Hemlock Dell. Having Parents who loved travel, the family ventured across the nation from Virginia to California and Oregon when she was ages 7, 12, and 16 on mainly dirt roads. At 16 she had her first sight of Salt Lake City not knowing at the time she would spend the balance of her life here married to our father and raising a family. She attended the world fairs in Chicago and New York. Wonderous memories included Picnics and reunions in Virginia Beach with her aunts teaching her how to dance the Charleston. She took piano and ballet lessons and when her interest gravitated to tap dancing her father declared there would be no chorus girls in this Family! Her first interest in flying came at 12 years old when her father put her aboard an open-air cockpit bi-wing flown by an old barn stormer for a wild ride in the clouds - much to our mothers’ horror. Almost 65 years later she would fly around the world in the supersonic Concorde making many stops in the most exotic places that would over a month.
Grandfather was well-off and truly provided Mother with an upholstered existence. She grew up in a large home with help in a fashionable area of town. Although having magic experiences in the 1920’s and 1930’s, Mother would recall the dark aspects of the times. She would often reflect on the hard times of the Depression years with the soup lines and jobless endlessly looking for work. Her father and mother continually exposed her to the reality by driving her around town and encouraging her to look into the eyes of the less fortunate children her own age. She fondly remembers with pride she and her mother taking large baskets of sandwiches throughout the city for the hungry. Even though those knocking on the car door were never turned away. Mother continued this campaign of helping the needy well into her nineties. Decades later at the dinner table when her children wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t site the “people are starving in China” maxim, but merely state “if you’d seen what I’ve seen you wouldn’t be so wasteful”.
Mother graduated from Jefferson High School in Roanoke where she was head cheerleader (and a total knockout). One of the highlights of her attending the prestigious Women’s College Mary Baldwin in Stanton, Virginia being accepted in 1938. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1942. During her four years of college our gorgeous and elegant mother never had a shortage of dates and often recalled the Big Band Era dancing to Glen Miller, Barry Goodman, and Tommy Dorsey while listening to a young Frank Sinatra. Life long friendships were also formed during this time which continued until this day. Upon her graduation, (the Japanese had recently bombed Pearl Harbor) she wanted some excitement and travel and became a flight attendant with American Airlines. While at training she modeled part-time in New York and was eventually assigned to Dallas-Fort Worth as her airline base. She had maintained a strong romance engaged when out of nowhere she met our father (L. John “Jack” Forsey) who was a pilot for American and she was swept off her feet. Father later joined the Navy as an officer and flew in the Pacific theater. They were eventually married in 1944 and lived in Alexandria, Virginia, and San Francisco. He worked in the aviation industry in a number of capacities and they both made sacrifices saving fiercely so he could open a furniture store in Salt Lake City where he had grown up. In the interim, they became involved in the uranium boom in Southern Utah and did very well with their mining claims. They returned to Salt Lake to fulfill his dream of a retail furniture store. In 1950, partnered with his brother Harry, a new store opened on Highland Drive. Mother was so supportive through the years and helped in every way imaginable while raising a family of 3 children. Initially moving to Salt Lake was hard on Mother. She was horrified by this arid, provincial place compared to the beauty and sophistication of Virginia. She knew no one, but almost immediately started to interact with the wives of businessmen who were just starting their respective careers. She also met Fathers wonderful friends and their wives, and this commenced many endearing relationships that lasted decades. She became active in many Salt Lake affairs and always joined in where needed. She was on several boards including Sarah Daft Home, Holladay Community Church, United Fund, PTA and served as Den and Brownie mother. She was most proud of becoming the President of the Salt Lake Art Center in 1976. Being an accomplished artist herself (painting throughout her life) she oversaw art appreciation classes, docents, and tirelessly raised money using country club auctions to create an Art Center in Salt Lake. She was a member for years in the Salt Lake Junior League. In 1951 they joined the Salt Lake Country Club where she was a member of the Ladies Golf Association. Father and Mother helped initiate a fun-loving golf group called “Foggy Dew” and it’s approximately 24 members traveled throughout the world playing golf and having the time of their lives. In addition, she was a member of the Town Club, The Springs Country Club, and the Desert Island Country Club, the latter two being in Rancho Mirage, California. Our parents spent the winters in the Palm Springs area and through the years had a series of homes and condominiums that Mother would decorate to the nines. In Utah, because of Fathers love of ranching, they built or extensively remodeled three different ranch houses in St. George, Draper and Morgan. In each location they gave wonderful parties with western bands, barbeque and always included a golf tournament. One thing we cannot omit is Mother’s cooking prowess. She was a magician in the kitchen – everything from elaborate sit-down dinners to her homemade soups which have become legendary.
Father died in 1992 and in 1997 she married Hamer S. Culp. They enjoyed life together and travelled extensively throughout the world. They spent wonderful times together with friends at his house at the beach in the summer and her house in the desert during the winters. Hamer’s family became very dear to her and helped ensure a loving and happy marriage. He passed away in 2004.
Mother is survived by two sons and a daughter: John (Linda Sorenson), Robert (Kathleen), and Tricia (Doug Terry) and five grandchildren.
The greatest generation of our mother’s time is leaving us at a rapid pace. The admiration and respect we have for this age group is boundless and celebrated, and the strength, integrity, and fortitude of the people may possibly never to be visited again.
At Mothers request no memorial services will be held. Just prior to her passing she joked that she had outlived everyone and who would come? However, we will host a small reception in her honor at the Town Club from 3:30-5:30 on Wednesday, December 15th.
Mother, throughout her life had many dogs and it was her wish that in lieu of flowers, please send a contribution to the Utah Humane Society.