Dorothy “Dot” Culberson

by Leah Wilson

Over the generations, many people have made possible Emory & Henry College and its distinctive learning community. For those employed at Emory & Henry, this has been demanding work. Working at Emory & Henry was a whole-family undertaking. One such family member was Dorothy “Dot” Culberson.

Mrs. Culberson came to Emory, Virginia, following World War II, when her husband enrolled at the college to take advantage of the GI Bill. They were among the many young people who came to this college eager for lives beyond the fear and sacrifices of war. Mr. and Mrs. Culberson lived for a time in Fulton House, which was located where Hillman Hall is now. At his graduation, Mr. Culberson began working at Emory & Henry. The couple built a home along Hillman Highway, a short distance from campus, where they raised their four children. In later years, Mrs. Culberson, and many other spouses who had similar stories, would laughingly remark about her husband going off to a college meeting or traveling for the college just when something needed to be repaired. One way Mrs. Culberson devised to earn a little extra money was by typing dissertations for faculty members who completed their graduate requirements after coming to work Emory & Henry. “I typed a lot of dissertations,” she said, “and I learned a lot.”

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Culberson served as the Administrative Assistant for two Deans of Students. Always on her desk was a bowl of chocolate kisses. Always in front of her desk was a chair, welcoming anyone who would stop and visit. Once, having returned from a time management seminar, Mrs. Culberson was asked what she had learned. “They told me that I needed to take the chair from in front of my desk, so people wouldn’t stop and talk. I’m not going to do that.” She never moved the chair.

At the Emory United Methodist Church, at choir concerts, at football games, at nearly every other college event, Mrs. Culberson was always there with a ready laugh, a kind word, a fond remembrance, and a warm hug.

The photograph was provided by Monica Hoel, from her personal collection.

Click here to learn more about the Watershed Project.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mrs. Culberson served as the Administrative Assistant for two Deans of Students. Always on her desk was a bowl of chocolate kisses. Always in front of her desk was a chair, welcoming anyone who would stop and visit.

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