A captain of artillery during the Korean War, Marvin McTyeire “Buddy” Cullom II returned from that conflict with a chest full of medals but also ear problems that eventually rendered him deaf.
But he never let it slow him down, said daughter Millie Downs, 53, of Fayetteville, because overcoming adversity was a family tradition. Mr. Cullom’s father, the late Dr. Hale E. Cullom, was an ophthalmologist who lost his eyesight in a gunshot accident in the 1930s while on Army duty in Alabama, then spent the rest of his life helping the blind.
The late Dr. Cullom didn’t live long, dying when son Buddy Cullom was just 12. And from then on, Buddy Cullom was the man of the house in Nashville, working to support his mother, sister and brother, Hale E. Cullom Jr., now 75.
Marvin M. “Buddy” Cullom, of Marietta, died Aug. 4 of Alzheimer’s disease. He was 79. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church. His remains will be interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville. Medford-Peden Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Mr. Cullom worked hard to help support his family when growing up, then found jobs to help earn tuition money for Vanderbilt University, where he earned a degree in history, and later the Nashville YMCA Night Law School.
He worked for various paper companies, first in sales, then climbed the ladder of management before moving to Atlanta in 1963. He retired from Georgia-Pacific in 1996.
Besides his brother and Millie Downs, Mr. Cullom is survived by two other daughters, Martha Carol Cullom, 49, of Marietta, and Norma Cullom Collins, 55, of Marble Hill. He also is survived by four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Ms. Cullom, who lived with her father for the last 25 years of his life, said that, like his father, he liked to volunteer, and “would beat everybody outdoors to pick up limbs after a storm.”
Mrs. Collins said her father was a “true patriot” to the end and proud of her Vietnam veteran husband, the late James Collins. They had combat in common and sometimes quietly discussed their own wars.
Gary Walters, 72, a longtime friend and neighbor, said Mr. Cullom sometimes discussed his Korean War experiences with him.
“He was pretty deaf from laying down artillery over there,” Mr. Walters said. “He never complained about losing his hearing. Instead, he’d talk about how cold it was, that once he’d been on the line for a long, long time and absolutely had to have a shower. So he went and had his shower and it was 20 degrees below zero. But he said it was better than being dirty.”
It was because of his father that Mr. Cullom loved dogs, and he got a wet smooch in his final days from his beloved Schatzie, a dachshund.
“He loved dogs so much because his father, who was blind, had one of the first Seeing Eye dogs,” Mrs. Collins said. “Just about the most important people to my dad were his dogs. He never forgot the one who helped his dad.”
Mr. Cullom wore hearing aids but still found it hard to communicate, Mrs. Collins said. He had a passion for the Army and his family, but also for clothes. He always “looked like a millionaire,” she said. “He was really put together.”
Mrs. Collins said her father, who was twice divorced, remained good friends with both ex-wives, Anne Cullom, and his first wife, JoAnn Chandler. Mrs. Chandler, a missionary in Romania, flew back to visit him in March. And Anne Cullom was at the bedside “the last time he was conscious,” Mrs. Collins said.
“My mom and dad had three children together,” she said, “and that feeling they had never went away.”
Mr. Cullom’s brother, Hale, recalls that “Buddy was my mentor and my best friend.” He said Mr. Cullom “bought me a professional first baseman’s mitt, which cost his entire paycheck,” but that was typical of the man he was.
“Buddy is a Cullom hero” among many, including 20 or so who fought in the Confederate army in the Civil War, Hale Cullom said. “He was the best.”
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Credit: Channel 2 Action News