Marian Frank Cullen, 99
Marian Frank Cullen, 99, daughter of the late Vera Beaver-Frank and Leslie D. Frank of Kearney, Neb., passed away peacefully on Oct. 6, 2019. She was a beautiful redhead born on April Fools’ Day in 1920, bearing the nickname “Red” in her youth and throughout her life maintaining a tender heart and charming manner along with razor wit, a combination that often saw her described her as a firecracker.
The losses of her mother and grandparents were heartbreaking for Cullen, but she was a bold woman forged from hard times in the American Midwest. After her mother died, when Cullen was very young, she and her five siblings were raised in Kearney by her beloved grandparents, Etta Lewelling Frank and Otway Curry Frank.
She most enjoyed and often reminisced about her youthful days there, sharing fascinating and endearing stories about her grandparents’ farm, small-town life in Kearney and childhood perils of enduring both the Dust Bowl and Great Depression.
Cullen’s grandfather, a major influence in her life, taught her kindness and generosity as he helped his family and community make it through hard times. He passed away when she was just 15 years old.
Years later, Cullen met her future husband, Walter Arthur “Walt” Cullen, when they worked together in the U.S. Forestry Service. Her dearly loved grandmother passed away in April 1941, just days after Cullen turned 21. Within weeks, Walt had joined the U.S. Air Force and entered basic training in Texas, while Marian Cullen moved to Washington, D.C., to work for General Motors in military motor-pool acquisitions.
In August of 1941, Walt hitchhiked to Washington, so the couple could be married in a civil ceremony. Their shared, patriotic sense of duty never was more evident than that same day, when they parted as he went back to officers’ training and she returned to her military acquisitions service.
As an Air Force officer’s wife, Cullen always was excited for the opportunities and adventures of frequent travel, both in three-year deployments and trips for pleasure. During a tour in Ottawa, Canada in 1948, their son Walter Stephen Cullen was born. The Cullen family then deployed together, including a tour in Ankara, Turkey, and two in Pretoria, South Africa, with a home base in Northern Virginia.
Cullen made many close and lifetime friends among other military families, as well as residents in other countries. Among those friends were a family that had just bought a large game preserve adjoining Kruger National Park in South Africa, where Marian and her family enjoyed frequent visits and many adventures in the wilds.
In Africa, Marian also was an avid rockhound, amassing a sizable collection. The largest and rarest of the specimens have been donated to the University of Delaware. The Cullen Family Collection is displayed at the university’s Mineralogical Museum in Newark.
Among her many other talents, Cullen was a creative seamstress and prolific stained glass artist who enjoyed creating clothing and decorative items for friends and family. She also was an enthusiastic genealogist and lifetime member of the Kate Waller Barrett Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, with her research donated to her DAR chapter’s library in Alexandria, Va.
Cullen was preceded in death by her beloved and devoted husband of 72 years, Walter Arthur Cullen, in 2013, and all of her siblings, Rex, William, Marjorie, Shirley and Patricia.
Shortly after being widowed, Cullen moved to Brandywine Assisted Living in Fenwick Island in Selbyville, Del., close to the home of her son, Steve and his wife, Jo, in Frankford, Del. She enjoyed the lively community and tender care she received, deeply loving the members of her Brandywine family. Her family also expressed their deepest gratitude and respect for the Brandywine family.
In her final days, the Delaware Hospice team provided much tender care, comfort and compassion to Cullen and her immediate family members, who are grateful to have such a fine group in the community. In addition to her beloved son and daughter-in-law, Cullen is survived by her “grand-dog,” Maxx. She will be dearly missed.
A viewing was to be held at Melson Funeral Services in Ocean View, Del., followed by private burial at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro, Del., to reunite Marian forever with her sweetheart, Walt. Condolences may be sent online at www.melsonfuneralservices.com.