Fort Mill Times

Sara Culp celebrates 90 years – almost all in Fort Mill

Sara Culp, center, of Fort Mill, celebrated her 90th birthday June 7. She is pictured with her children Tim Culp, Terry Kearns and Pat Laughridge.
Sara Culp, center, of Fort Mill, celebrated her 90th birthday June 7. She is pictured with her children Tim Culp, Terry Kearns and Pat Laughridge. KELLY LESSARD

Sara Culp has lived in Fort Mill for nearly all of her 90 years.

She entertained 50 guests at her birthday party June 7 in the same house on Oak Street that she’s lived in for 68 years.

“The Lord has really been good to me,” Culp said. “I’ve had cancer, a stroke, a heart attack. The doctor told me I should have been dead three times.”

“She died. They brought her back,” said Terry Kearns, Culp’s daughter. “Shocked her four times.”

“I beat every bit of it,” said Culp.

Kearns said her mother told her she was “ready to go” and “at such peace” after her most recent illness, and wondered why God didn’t take her.

“I told her, ‘The good Lord above has some unfinished business. There’s something here that he wants you to do,” Kearns said.

“Well, I just wish he’d hurry up and tell me,” Kearns recalled her mother saying.

Culp was married to the late Hazel B. Culp for 47 years. She has five children, 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

“All of my children turned out really really good,” Culp said. “I had a son in Vietnam, but he made it back.”

That son is Gene Culp of Pennsylvania. In addition to Gene and Terry, Culp has one other son, Tim Culp, and one other daughter, Pat Laughridge. Culp lost a daughter, Shirley Ann Spinks, in a car accident in the 1970s.

“I’ve had some hard times and good times,” said Culp, a lifelong member of St. John’s United Methodist Church.

“She made sure we were in church every Sunday,” Kearns said. “We had a good family life.”

Culp worked in the weave room for Springs Industries for 33 years. For one of those years, Springs moved her to working in the cafeteria.

“I got a certificate,” Culp said. “That was the first time they’d ever made any money at that cafeteria.”

After retiring from Springs, Culp cared for many of her neighbors. She wasn’t paid, nor did she want to be, Kearns said. She was a caretaker in every sense of the word, she said.

“She did this out of the goodness of her heart,” Kearns said. “She’s just got the purest heart of anybody.”

Culp went back to work for eight years, this time at The Peach Stand.

“I love this woman,” said Beth Cunnup. “I managed The Peach Stand for 10 years. She kept that place so clean.”

Now, Culp spends her days on Oak Street with her 20-pound cat, CoCo.

“(CoCo) can’t stand a crowd like this,” Culp said during the party.

Culp’s children offer to help her and take her places.

“I can get around by myself,” Culp said. “I’ve been driving since I was 31 and I’ve never got a ticket.”

“She likes that independence,” Kearns said. “I say, ‘We can take you to the store,’ and she says, ‘I can drive myself to the store.’”

“And we say, ‘OK Mama,’” Kearns said.

Culp sat next to a large cake and smiled as well-wishers sang “Happy Birthday.”

“This is just a small sample of my family and kinfolk,” Culp said. “I’m just so thankful to the Lord for all I’ve had and do have.”