Dorothy Aileen Culpepper

Female, #34511, (21 Mar 1919 - 29 Mar 2008)
Father*Malon Maxley Culpepper (17 Nov 1886 - 4 Nov 1962)
Mother*Mattie Ella Hawkins (5 May 1886 - 8 Jan 1975)
Birth*21 Mar 1919 Dorothy was born at Jones Co., Texas, on 21 Mar 1919.1,2 
1920 Census1 Jan 1920 Dorothy was listed as a daughter in Malon Maxley Culpepper's household on the 1920 Census at Jones Co., Texas.3 
1930 Census1 Apr 1930 Dorothy was listed as a daughter in Malon Maxley Culpepper's household on the 1930 Census at Jones Co., Texas.4 
SSN*between 1936 and 1950 Her Social Security Number was issued between 1936 and 1950 in Texas.2 
Death of Father4 Nov 1962 Her father Malon Maxley Culpepper died on 4 Nov 1962 at Howard Co., Texas.5 
Death of Mother8 Jan 1975 Her mother Mattie Ella Hawkins died on 8 Jan 1975 at Abilene, Taylor Co., Texas.6,2 
News Article*23 Mar 1999 Former HSU dorm mother found life on campus anything but dull

By Bill Whitaker, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine, March 23, 1999

For someone who is all sweetness and light in her many letters, Aileen Culpepper could be the intolerant mother of all mothers, representing to wayward Hardin-Simmons University girls the stern guardian of morals, manners and maidenhood.

She remembers well her first years on the Forty Acres back in the 1940s, riding herd as dorm mother over the girls of Mary Frances Hall.

Back then, if you did certain things, you were gone, Miss Culpepper reminded me. I’ll tell you how I became a legend. Between September and November one year, I eliminated five girls. One was caught in a hotel room and the others had been out drinking. But the one who got caught in the hotel room amazed me.

She’d actually been silly enough to stand up there in the window at the Windsor while a parade passed by. Well, I went to that parade and I looked up and there she was. Her father was a judge in Jones County and she was a brilliant mind, but I’m happy to say he didn’t approve of her behavior, either.

Such are the memories of Miss Culpepper. And yet, Linda Butts of HSU and other staffers, faculty, former teachers and students are bracing themselves for an onslaught of well-wishers during Miss Culpepper’s semi-surprise birthday party today. Running from 2-4 p.m. at the Johnson Multi-Purpose Room on campus, the party salutes Miss Culpepper’s 80th birthday.

It also acknowledges Miss Culpepper’s continuing concern for students, as evidenced by the mass of letters she writes every week.

That’s just her way, Linda Butts said. She was dorm mother for more than 40 years here, and while she never married and has no family, she has more children than any of the rest of us. What’s more, she keeps in touch with them all.

Maybe it’s because she feels responsible for shaping them, at least to a degree.

Firm resolve

I’ve been to graduation 56 times, Miss Culpepper said, and it’s still exciting to me. It’s the completion of one aspect of their lives, and you wonder to yourself just what they’re going to go on to do. And that’s why I keep up with them. I guess I feel responsible for them. A lot of what they’ve done has taken up much of my life.

Before retiring in 1985, Miss Culpepper had, indeed, become a legend at HSU, as much a part of the campus culture as Dam-It the Simmons dog or historian Rupert Richardson’s famous bee lectures. While she had set out from her native Anson to become a teacher, she quickly tired of the classroom.

That’s when Dr. Richardson asked her to consider signing on at HSU as a dorm mother.

Although she had occasion to wonder if she made the right decision during her first few years on campus, she went on to serve 11 years at Mary Frances Hall and another 30 years at Behrens Hall. The latter saw her monitor, each year, the various and sundry activities of 165 freshman girls, many no doubt anxious to test Miss Culpepper’s resolve.

That resolve remained firm, but her compassion also revealed itself often enough.

I had one unmarried girl in the building who was pregnant, she recalled, and I had to take her to the hospital one morning. I guess that was pretty interesting. I knew she was pregnant and I had tried to get her some help earlier, but without success. But it was a good thing I got her to the hospital on time.

If she’d had that baby upstairs in the dorm, we would’ve been in every paper in the nation!

Fortunately, Miss Culpepper’s sense of humor has remained intact. She recalled one time mounting the stairs after-hours to quell a water fight. The girls, unaccustomed to seeing Miss Culpepper adorned in a robe and with her long red hair undone, mistook her for just another student deserving a splash of humility.

Shocked too late at their mistake, the students stepped back in dread.

But I was so tickled, I couldn’t keep a straight face, Miss Culpepper said. It was a lot of fun!

Letters galore

Today Miss Culpepper stays busy attending weddings and, all too often, funerals. However, it is her letter-writing habit that amazes most. Letters come not just to former charges but one-time HSU colleagues and people in the community.

They’re really masterpieces, said Dr. Delores Washburn, who recently retired from Hardin-Simmons University. She always knows what someone needs to hear. She seems to know what to say when someone is challenged by something in life or when someone is going through a period of sorrow.

Which strongly suggests Miss Culpepper, whatever her duties as a fearsome dorm mother, really has had a huge heart all along.

I don’t keep a count of all the letters I send, but there are some weeks when I’ll write 30 of them, she told me the other day. That’s not counting what I write for birthdays. It may sound ridiculous to you, but when I go to bed at night, I think of all the people I need to write.
Aileen Culpepper
Death*29 Mar 2008 She died at Abilene, Taylor Co., Texas, on 29 Mar 2008 at age 89.2 
ChartsJohn Culpepper of Randolph Co, AL: Descendant Chart
Last Edited17 Aug 2011

Citations

  1. Texas Department of State Health Services, compiler, Texas Birth Index, 1903 - 1997, Online database at Ancestry.com, 2005.
    http://content.ancestry.com/iexec/?htx=List&dbid=8781&ti=0
    Dorthy Alleene Culpepper, born __ 1919 in Jones Co., Texas.
  2. U.S. Social Security Administration, compiler, Social Security Death Index (SSDI), Online database at Ancestry.com.
    http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/vital/ssdi/main.htm
  3. 1920 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 123, Sheet 1A, Pg 1, Jones Co., TX
    Own=Y, Farm=Y
    Malon M. Culpepper, Head, M, 33, M, AL AL AL, Farmer
    Mattie E. Culpepper, Wife, F, 33, TX AL AL
    Dorothy A. Culpepper, Dau, F, 10/12, S, TX AL TX
    Next family:
    John Culpepper, Head, M, 65, M, AL GA? AL, Farmer
    Ellis E. Culpepper, Wife, F, 63, M, TX GA? GA.
  4. 1930 Federal Census, United States.
    ED 2, Sheet 7B, Pg 77, Pct. 1, Anson & Hollis Hill Rd., Jones Co., TX
    Own=Y, Radio=N, Farm=Y, Military=N
    Malon M. Culpepper, Head, M, 43, M, md@25, AL AL AL, Farmer
    Ella M. Culpepper, Wife, F, 43, M, md@25, TX AL TX
    Aileen D. Culpepper, Dau, F, 11, S, TX AL TX.
  5. Texas Department of Health, compiler, Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, Online database at Ancestry.com, 2006.
    http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4876
    Malon Maxley Culpepper, died 4 Nov 1962 in Howard Co., TX.
  6. Texas Department of Health, compiler, Texas Death Index, 1903-2000, Online database at Ancestry.com, 2006.
    http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4876
    Ella M Culpepper, Female, died 8 Jan 1975 in Taylor Co., TX.