As I write this I’m sitting in Wilma’s office. Wilma Cullum died about midnight Thursday, January, 5th. Her health had gradually slipped away and her last days were quiet and free of pain.
Wilma retired sometime in 2003-4 as the church secretary and treasurer. The date is hard to determine because she decided to work just a day or two a week because of health problems. Since her departure I have worked at her desk so I can see the front door, but it will always be “Wilma’s desk”, just as we continue to refer to it as “Wilma’s office.” And I’m afraid she’d find her desk a little more cluttered with me working at it than she might have preferred.
She became the church secretary about 1978 or so, and served three ministers, myself from 1989 until she retired.
Until computers became user friendly, she kept all the financial records in ledgers, the big kind that almost covered her whole desk. They are still on the self in the supply room. To look at them is to see the perfection with which she did her job. Each entry carefully written in with minute detail.
She loved the Christian Youth Camp, and each year she was able to do it, she would drive to Alta Mons and register the campers and collect the money, since Roanoke was responsible for paying the bills.
Her “office code” might well be described as, “What happens at the office stays at the office.” Any minister who worked for her knew that anyone who came to see them would not be discussed outside of the office. She was not just my secretary, she was also my friend. As such, she was protective of me and had little patience with anyone who had an issue with me. As they say, I knew she had my back. That was true with anyone who was her friend. I only heard a few of the names of the women who found in her a confidant and an adviser, but there were many. I think they saw, as did I, that she did not project a super-pious attitude…
She had a sense of humor, and I can’t remember a day in the office, or at her extended care apartment, that we didn’t laugh about something. Even the next to the last time I saw her, we laughed together about something silly.
She was also a woman of strong personal convictions. Locally, many of her friends wondered why there was no obituary or even a one line notice of her death. She made it clear that was the way she wanted it. However, I didn’t know that until she died. I knew she had an aversion to anything about death. Each year a local funeral home brings us two large calendars. With a little modification, I could make one work as a desk calendar for my desk. She wanted them out of her sight. On occasion she would come in on a Monday and complain about the morbid “Life’s evening sun is sinking low” songs of the day before. And yet, as death neared, she never fretted about it. I never saw any fear of dying in her. I think it was more that she wanted to live each day without thinking about it. Which to me,
Showed her confidence in God.
She also had a conviction about her death. She wanted no obituary and no service. She donated her body to medical research. It was to be sent to a school that studied osteoporosis and other bone issues. She was something of an institution around here, and she will be missed.
The following is an obituary graciously provided to the church by her daughter, Debbie Huffman. This is to let her many friends beyond this church and area know of her death.
Born and raised in Nashville, TN, she met Dad while attending David Lipscomb High School. Opposites attracted as Dad was the social, fun-loving, stayed in trouble all the time type and Mom was studious, always making the A Honor Roll and played both the piano and violin. They were married in 1950 after their first year of college and Dad joined the Army. They lived from New Jersey to New Mexico and she loved that part of her life. She worked at various jobs, but one of her favorites was working the Switchboard at a large hotel in Augusta, Ga. She managed all the VIP calls, and even President Eisenhower. She loved New Mexico the most though and a lot of the jewelry she wore was reminiscent of that area.
They returned to Nashville after the Army and then moved to Roanoke in 1961 with their first born, Debbie. This was when they started attending the Roanoke C of C. Bobby and Jenni grew up during this time, and through Jenni’s cancer diagnosis and Bobby and Jenni’s accident, the church family was there to lend support. Mom did not return to work until 1973 where she worked for Roanoke Co. Schools, then a gas company and finally the Church. She enjoyed working and continued to be friends with many of her co-workers through the years.
After Dad died in 1990, Mom and one of her best friends. Christine Brown, became the “Thelma and Louise” of Roanoke. One exception-they had Jenni and Melanie in the back seat. Listening to their stories, it was a wonder they all got back in one piece. It always took a while to get the whole story from them because they were both laughing so hard. The bottom line-if you were a friend of Mom’s, you were a friend for life. Strong bonds existed with her friends for years and years, and only death could separate them.
Mom is predeceased by her husband, Joe, and son, Bobby. She is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Debbie and Jay Huffman and her daughter, Jenni Cullum. She had three granddaughters, Emily Huffman Still (Ryan). Laura Huffman Doenz (Kellen) and Katie Cullum (Spencer Duncan). She also had three great-grandchildren, Brody and Eli Still and Reagan Duncan.
Jenni will remain in Roanoke until a place where she can take her cat can be found near the Huffman’s. She would love cards, calls and especially a visit. Her address is 4435 Pheasant Ridge Road, Roanoke, VA 24014. Her phone number is 540-989-1216.
CONCERNS: Judy and T. J. Hall have been under the weather. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin is being treated for bladder cancer. Bud McWhorter is recovering from back surgery. A traveler, Jeremy Hamilton, is in RMH with serious health problems and asked for our prayers. Sam Green’s (Sam from VBS) father is an unemployed diabetic with heart problems. Jenni Cullum will remain in Roanoke until a place can be found near her sister, Debbie, which will let her keep her cat. The therapist in Del Bolin’s office must receive an eye injection each day to keep from losing any more of her eyesight. Her name is Jenn McCready. Garrett Lee Williams friend who had an eye damaged in an accident is receiving treatments to hopefully restore his sight. Also keep in your prayers Eleanor Crush, Helen Nicklas, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and Health Talents Int, Bread For A Hungry World, and for world leaders.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 16-21
Monday: John 1:35-51
Tuesday: Revelation 1:4-20
Wednesday: I Corinthians 6:7-20
Thursday: Luke 17:11-19
Friday: Philippians 2:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 98:1-9
OUR DAILY BREAD: JAN. 23-28
Monday: Daniel 6:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136:1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 135:1-2
The congregation mourns the death of Wilma Cullum, who died on January 5th at the Roanoke Nursing Home. We extend our sympathy to Jenni, Debbie and the rest of Wilma’s family. More information can be found inside the bulletin
THE STEERING COMMITTEE
The steering committee is seeking to add more members. The congregation is asked to nominate anyone they feel can be of service to the committee, and thus to the congregation. Names of those nominated should be passed on to any member of the committee. Their names are at the top of the bulletin. Those who agree to serve will be confirmed by a congregational vote, which requires at least 75% approval. The process will begin as soon as names are received.
Sunday, January 15th is Super Sunday. All January birthdays (no anniversaries this month) and visitors will be served first in line. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal and the fellowship.
We are moving forward on various improvements around both the buildings. A new chandelier now hangs in the foyer. A new range and an above-range microwave will soon be purchased. If you know of anyone who would like the old, above and below oven range, please let us know. It works fine but the upper oven needs some thermostat adjustment. We had all the cabinets overhauled as well as the flooring in the sink area. Outside improvements have also been made.
Due to a very generous contribution toward upgrading the sound system, which will be the first part of the audio/visual improvements for the building. Keith has a contact that has a Christian friend who will sell us what we need at cost. He may also be able to install it for us. Whenever they can, the heating and cooling folks will start on improving the air flow for the air conditioning.
If you have e-mail the bulletin will reach you faster. A hard copy can always be picked up in the foyer. If you would like to receive the bulletin via e-mail, give Keith your e-mail address, or better yet, go to our website to subscribe to it. The e-mail address for the church is roanokechurchofchrist.com