Larry Eugene McCullough, aged 85, passed away Wednesday, September 30, after a long battle with cancer. He was surrounded by his wife and children. Born and raised in Mocksville, North Carolina, Larry spent his retirement years with his wife enjoying life on the shores of the Albemarle Sound.
Born in the front bedroom of his grandparents’ home, Larry was the son of the late James and Mattie Sue McCullough. When his father was killed in a motorcycle accident, Larry, only four, and his two younger brothers went to live with his paternal grandparents, Ada and Granville, and their adopted daughter, Peggy. Their farm with its green pastures and streams became a playground for Larry, Joe, and Delano. But it wasn’t all fun and games. The three boys learned the value of hard work, the simple pleasure of hot biscuits and homemade butter, and that willow switches were not as willowy as their name implied. Larry graduated from Cooleemee High School in 1956 where he played football and was once accused of leaving a goat tethered to a weathervane on the roof of the classroom building. The accusations remain unsubstantiated and the goat, while safely removed from the roof, was eventually roasted.
Before his eighteenth birthday, Larry enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. Being a Marine remained, until the end of his life, one of his proudest accomplishments. Following boot camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, Larry returned to Cooleemee to marry his high school sweetheart, Betty Jean Hamilton. A few years later, Betty Jean passed away due to complications from dental surgery. Hearing the news while posted in Richmond, Virginia, Larry was driven home by his lifelong friend, Gilmer “Mitch” Mitchell, arriving just in time to say goodbye.
But Larry was a Marine. And while the Corps allows for bereavement, it does not condone a lengthy grieving process. There was work to be done, so Larry returned to duty in Richmond. There, after a few years, he met Ann Pate, a pretty, independent young woman who, though initially reluctant, eventually succumbed to his wit, charm and determination.
After a brief courtship, Ann returned with Larry to Mocksville to meet his family. A city girl, Ann was unaccustomed to rural life or the rural customs familiar to her beau. Indeed, when Larry’s grandfather asked to see her teeth, Ann was speechless – until she saw his smile and the twinkle in his eye. A hug and a pronouncement of approval was all it took. Larry and Ann were soon married in Virginia where in a few short years they welcomed two of their three children, Stella Dean, and Lonnie Eugene.
Larry was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps due to an allergy to penicillin. He returned with his young family to Mocksville where he began a new career with Ingersoll Rand. The second person hired at the new facility in 1965, Larry worked as a parts manager until his retirement in 1997. During his early years with the company, Larry earned an associate degree from Salisbury Business College. He and Ann also welcomed their third child, James Christopher.
Larry was a member of Liberty United Methodist, a church his grandfather helped build. Later, the family joined Holy Trinity Lutheran so his sons could become members of the church sponsored Boy Scout troop. Larry served as assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 525 during the next ten years until Lonnie and Chris left Mocksville to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Stella attended Peace College in Raleigh before joining her brothers at Carolina.
Larry is survived by many dear friends, none dearer than his wife of 62 years, Ann. Also surviving are his loving children, Stella Green (husband, Danny), Lonnie (wife, Sheila) and Chris (wife, Lynn). Larry doted on his beloved grandchildren, Mac, Thomas and Sam Jackson; Spencer, Georgia and Grace McCullough; and Willem, Margaret, John and Patrick McCullough. Larry is also survived by his brothers, Delano (wife Priscilla), and Joe (wife Carolyn), along with many nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held at a later date due to concerns caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Those wishing to make memorial contributions may do so at https://semperfifund.org.
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