It’s with a heavy heart that we share the passing of Michael Wayne Culwell on January 7, 2022, after a long and difficult battle with Parkinson’s disease. It’s with that same heart that we celebrate a father and a friend.
Michael Wayne Culwell was born in 1943 in Stamford, Texas, to Henry (Punk) and Inez Culwell. In 1947 he and his family moved to Plains Texas where they would become pillars in the local community. Mike graduated from Plains High School in 1961 where he excelled on both the basketball court and the football field as a star of both teams.
Mike met Mary Johnson in Plains, Texas, where they both grew up and married in 1963, the same year he joined the United States Navy. Mike spent his basic training in San Diego, California, before being ordered to Honolulu, Hawaii. From there, he was ordered on to Vietnam where he was a meteorologist for the USS Savage, starting each day with a smile and his famous quote, “Looks like we’ve got about a 50% chance of rain today.”
Following his service in Vietnam, Mike joined the VW4 Navy “Hurricane Hunters” Squadron, collecting data on major storm systems at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, where he completed his career in the US Navy.
After the Navy, Mike graduated from West Texas State University and taught Sciences at Tulia (Texas) High School before earning his master’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture at Texas A&M (Gig ’Em, Aggies!). While Mike was in his master’s program, he and Mary welcomed their daughter, Kelly Regina Culwell, to the family, and upon graduation, he joined Asgrow Seed Company where he began his 40+ year career in vegetable seed production.
Mike and Mary welcomed a son, Robert Wesley Culwell, in 1978, and they settled in Salinas, California, where they would spend the majority of the next four decades.
Upon retiring, Mike moved to San Diego, California, to be closer to his son and his daughter’s family. In his retirement years he enjoyed volunteering at the San Diego Zoo and the VA Medical Center, painting, playing bocce ball, cooking (perfecting his signature pecan pie), and taking wine-tasting trips throughout California.
The highlights of these later years were walking his daughter, Kelly, down the aisle in 2004, the birth of his grandson in 2009, and his 2017 cross country road trip with his son, Wes, where he was able to visit his alma mater, Plains High School, and sink a hook shot one final time.
Mike was preceded in death by his parents, Henry and Inez Culwell, and brother Vaughn Culwell. He’s survived by his wife, Mary Culwell; son Wesley Culwell; daughter Kelly Culwell and her husband, Kent; grandson Paul; sister-in-law Carolyn Culwell; and his niece and nephew, Julie Beene and Gary Culwell.
To honor his service, Michael will be buried at sea on a deployed United States Naval vessel via Committal Ceremony. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s, and the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.