Patty Hirst Remembers Dublin’s Betty Culpepper

Patty Hirst

Patty Hirst

Betty Roberson Culpepper contributed to the community of Dublin over and over. The story of her journey is compelling. Though she was an ordinary person, she has did unbelievably extraordinary things for Dublin and the citizens who live there.

Born in Desdemona at the tail end of its famous oil boom, Betty spent her childhood and adolescent years on the Roberson’s family farm in the Bunyon community surrounded by brothers and boy cousins; she held her own by learning to out run and out ride all of them. Horses were her first love.

Attending the Bunyon school, her artistic ability was recognized early by her teacher and therefore, she received special instructions in the different mediums of drawing and painting from this wise instructor, Miss Melner.

Bunyon had no high school, so Betty went to Lingleville for those last years of education and graduated in 1939. She married classmate Edward Christian and son Denny was born to them in 1941.

Wanting to attend beauty school she went to Ft. Worth to do so, and there she completed training and opened her own business. She was very successful, and one her clients during the 1940’s was Mrs. Ben Hogan.

Through her business in Ft. Worth, her attractiveness was certainly noticed and she was a model for dress shops there as well as for Fort Worth Garden Club events. Seen in Cox’s Department Store by the Vogue Patterns representative, she was also employed to model for their company a few times a year.

During the 1940’s, Betty’s husband was serving in the U.S. Army. Grievously wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the bloodiest encounters the Americans experienced in WW II, Christian was sent home on a hospital ship and as did many of “The Greatest Generation,” returned to his family a very, very changed man.

In keeping her newly reunited family going, Betty continued her work as a successful hairdresser and salon owner. As hectic as life was at this point, she still found time for her horse and was an avid equestrian, riding in parades and rodeos when she could.

At one point, she had the distinction of leading the Grand Entry for one of the Ft. Worth Stock Show rodeos. Betty cut a dashing figure on horseback.

Tragedy stuck in the early 1960’s when Christian was killed in a trucking accident. Recognizing how devastated and rundown Betty had become, her parents insisted that she take a week off and get away.

A girlfriend accompanied her to Rio Dosa for a week to relax and recuperate. On this trip, Betty caught the eye of Wiley T. Culpepper, who pursued her throughout the visit and then followed her home.

A builder by trade, Culpepper persisted in courting Betty and finally convinced her to marry in 1962. His work required travel, and he wanted Betty to accompany him. She closed her business and hit the road.

Living in Houston, Galveston, Oklahoma, New Mexico and other sites of building projects, the Culpeppers returned frequently to Dublin so Betty could see her family. Her father’s health was declining.

Culpepper was asked to go to Turkey on a project for the government, but Betty said she wouldn’t go, “I told Cul I wasn’t going to go off and leave my daddy.”

With that in mind, the Culpeppers soon moved to Dublin permanently. In 1964, Mr. Roberson passed away, but the Culpeppers stayed and put down roots in the community.

Having experience as a businesswoman, Betty opened a shoe store approximately where the Green Pickle is located today. It was along in 1969-70 with W. D. Raley as head of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce that the idea of a local historical society began to take form.

As Raley visited around town, he and Betty kept having this conversation and the formation of just such a group became reality. Betty was an important part of this newly formed organization.

In 1975-76 Betty was the chairman of The Erath County Historical Survey Committee whose task it was to contact the residents of the county asking for their family histories in the Erath area. This was in the days before computers made things easier; the job was very labor intensive.

Never a stranger to hard work, Betty jumped right in and led the group as hundreds of family stories were recorded and then collected into an incredible anthology of the how the county had been founded by strong clans of settlers.

History of Erath County is an impressive reference book. Published in 1980, it continues to be one of the most popular credentials used by genealogists to locate ancestors in this area. This contribution alone was enormous to the community and county.

In 1984, Betty was at the forefront again as she spearheaded getting Dublin on the map as a Texas Independence Community for the Texas 1986 Sesquicentennial Commission. Making trips to Austin as well as organizing things here in Dublin, she was the driving force behind Dublin’s participation in that very special mark in Texas history.

The combination of Betty’s charter membership in the Dublin Historical Society (also a past president), leading the publication of History of Erath County, and heading the sesquicentennial project would place Betty squarely in Dublin’s rich history records, but those are only a few of the things she has achieved.

Betty has served Dublin as election judge, as officer on the board of directors of the Dublin Public Library, and as Worthy Matron for the Eastern Star.

Twice, Betty has served as president of the Dublin Garden Club, and she has kept alive and nourished that early artistic talent. Her home is filled with her striking art and two of her pieces were once chosen to travel throughout the South with an art show.

As a long standing member of the First Baptist Church, Betty served for two decades as the general secretary of the Sunday school, headed for a number of years the committee to arrange funeral dinners, and served on the nominating committee.

At a time when anyone would have expected Betty Culpepper to sit back and rest on her many laurels, she remained constantly on the go, exercising regularly at the Senior Citizens’ Center, avidly reading and helping with the library’s summer reading program, and was a surrogate grandmother to a multitude of youngsters at Kids’ Korner.

Many contributions to the community, a personal legacy of perseverance, resourcefulness, and determination—all these come together to make Betty Culpepper very much a Dublin Legend.

An ordinary person who has done extraordinary things—that was Betty!

About Fredda Jones

Fredda Davis Jones was raised “in the country” in Comanche County and learned very early that creativity and innovation are traits that can flourish even in small-town Texas and that with enough effort, indeed nothing is impossible, including being married to the same man for over 40 years! Rickey and Fredda have 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and a crazy life that includes sitting in the bleachers several times a week. The rest of her time is spent creating great content for texansunited.com and marketing small-town Texas.
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