The world lost a precious soul as heaven gained another angel on Monday, March 22, 2021. James Robert Culpepper left from his earthly home surrounded by his loved ones, just as he wished. James Robert, as he was affectionately known to most, was born in his family’s home in the Harmony Community on April 16, 1940 to James Lloyd (Jim) and Addie Laura Murphy Culpepper. Throughout the rest of his life, he moved and lived only as far as across the Harmony Road from his home place. He was the youngest of five siblings, and to say he was spoiled a little was an understatement and a running joke amongst his family. As a newborn and young child, he spent many hours in the family country store with his mama. He attended school in Pelham, where he met many friends who remained close and special throughout his life. He graduated as a proud member of the Pelham High School class of 1958, and he enjoyed and never missed class reunions with these friends. He grew up in and was a member of Harmony Baptist Church. He loved the Harmony Community and the people in it. James volunteered with the Cotton Volunteer Fire Department where he served as assistant chief for several years. As a child and young man, he knew every inch of his stomping grounds in Harmony, from the fields to the ponds to the woods. Summers meant working in the fields with cousins and other family members. He knew as a young man that farming would be his chosen career and he began making preparations for that calling at an early age and bought his first tractor. He and his oldest brother, Joel Culpepper, farmed together for many years until Joel’s retirement. James was a successful farmer, not only providing for his family, but winning several awards such as Pelham Chamber of Commerce’s Farmer of the Year and achievements for highest yields in peanuts from Mitchell County Extension Agency. He grew the world’s best tomatoes, peanuts, corn, cotton, soybeans and produce such as zucchini, cantaloupe and watermelon. How he came to meet his wife is something that can be described as “Only God”. James had a date with a young lady who happened to have a niece visiting from Miami. One look at Gloria, and he told his date he was going to take Gloria out instead. When he got home that night, he told his mama that he had met the woman he was going to marry. A few months later, James traveled to Miami and he and Gloria LaVerne Burgess were married on June 24, 1961. James and his 16 year old bride lived in an old Culpepper family house on the farm when first married and then James with the help of others, built a home for his young family across the road from his birth house. Together they raised two daughters, Shelia and Sherry. James recently asked Gloria to renew their vows on February 7, 2021 in the presence of their children and grandchildren. Throughout their marriage of almost 60 years, James and Gloria enjoyed spending time with friends. They loved to dance and could shag, twist, and “belly rub” like professionals. Many weekends, they spent time with their friends dancing, playing cards or having fish fries and cookouts. They loved to travel together, visiting places such as Nashville and Branson. James enjoyed horse riding and competing in barrel races. He loved racing mini race cars and stock cars on the dirt tracks. James was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in 2011. He fought long and hard against the symptoms of the disease and refused to allow it to slow him down or prevent him from doing the things he loved. He continued to farm until 2016 when he reluctantly retired from farming, only to decide to grow tomatoes in his greenhouse for two summers. Each year the crop sold out as soon as they ripened. He loved to work and restore vehicles and machinery. He restored an old cotton picker as well as a 1950 Chevrolet truck that was his “Old Man’s Toy”. For a number of years, James loved entertaining his friends and family on New Years Eve with a cookout of the best sausage from his grill with the trimmings. Many friends gathered to enjoy bringing in the new year in James’ shop or at the Cotton Community Club. Everyone was shocked one year when a friend brought a karaoke machine and James picked up the microphone and began singing. He was hooked! He had Gloria buy their own machine and numerous country music CDs and he loved singing every opportunity he had. He often said “I can sing anything. Just don’t know how good.” He even sang on stage in Nashville while on a trip with the senior travel club of Pelham Banking Company. His love of fishing was as natural to him as loving the land to farm. It was in his blood and he shared this passion with his mama. There wasn’t a water hole anywhere around he didn’t try out. He loved fishing with “Old Faithful” in the ponds on the family farm, but also enjoyed Lake Seminole where he and Gloria purchased a weekend home for a few years. He looked forward to the first week of April to make an annual trip to the St. Johns River with friends and family. The legacy of James Robert Culpepper will be forever treasured and remembered as he will be everywhere they look around the family farm and home, as well as cherished in their memories of the love he modeled. He loved his family more than life itself. Nothing gave him more pleasure than spending time with his loved ones. He was so proud of his grandchildren and adored his great grandchildren. Leaving behind to cherish his memory are his wife, Gloria; children Shelia and Steve Cain and Sherry Barner; Grandchildren Dustie and Brian Knight, Jay and Lindsay Cain, Blake Barner and Brenda Morgan, Ashley and Joey Sposato, Steven and Kristen Barner; Great grandchildren Taylor Chason and Mark Munden, Quaid Chason, Emory Chason, Jase Knight; Great-great grandchildren Cassie, Cadyn and Kynber Munden; Sister Lynette Davis Crawford. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Joel Culpepper, D.R. “Bo” Culpepper; sister Frances Billings; mother and father in law Ishmel Lee and Vivian Ragan Burgess; sister and brother in law Carolyn Burgess and Roland Vaughn; nieces Rachel Vaughn and Kay Culpepper Pearson; nephews James Lloyd “Jim” Culpepper, Stan Davis. James’ family will be forever grateful for the blessing of two precious ladies, Kanaya “Pooh” McGee and Estella Edwards who made his last 18 months more pleasant and active as his caregivers. The service will be held at Harmony Baptist Church on Thursday, March 25 at 3:00 p.m. with burial at the church cemetery in the Culpepper family plot. You seldom saw James dressed in anything but his cowboy hat, cowboy boots, jeans and plaid shirts. Due to James’s enjoyment of casual dress, Gloria and the family request that anyone attending his service dress casually as well. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Harmony Baptist Church Cemetery Fund or Mitchell County Hospital Celebration Committee c/o Guy Crawford. Family will receive friends at the funeral home on Wednesday, March 24, 2021 from 6:00-8::00PM. Willis-Jamerson-Braswell Funeral Home, Pelham
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