April 1, 2005

Vanderbilt mourns loss of Culpepper

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Rebecca Culpepper

Vanderbilt mourns loss of Culpepper

Rebecca Clark Culpepper, who worked as a nursing professor and hospital administrator at Vanderbilt from 1977 to 1995, died March 24 after a long illness. She was 70.

"Becky was a great friend, mentor and colleague for me and for Vanderbilt nursing,” said Chief Nursing Officer Marilyn A. Dubree, R.N. “Her leadership was instrumental in helping to build a strong foundation for nursing practice, education and leadership."

“Becky Culpepper was a Renaissance woman,” said Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing. “She was a very able and knowledgeable leader, very intuitive about patients' needs and colleagues' professional and personal needs, and very caring of people. She was an acknowledged leader in the area of nursing administration and an unfailing source of wise counsel for us at the School of Nursing.”

On Monday, the School of Nursing and the VUMC department of Patient Care Services announced plans to establish a joint annual scholarship of $1,000 in Mrs. Culpepper's memory, to be called the Rebecca Culpepper Award.

In 18 years of service at the Medical Center, Mrs. Culpepper's chief roles included assistant hospital director, assistant clinical professor of Nursing Administration, director of Staff Development for the Department of Patient Care Services and director of the Center for Nursing Continuing Education. Upon retirement from Vanderbilt in 1995, Mrs. Culpepper established Culpepper & Associates, working as a consultant for Vanderbilt and other hospitals.

Mrs. Culpepper was born in 1934 in Jacksonville, Texas. She graduated from Baylor University School of Nursing in Waco, Texas in 1956 and later earned a master’s in organizational development from Tennessee State University. Before coming to Vanderbilt, she taught nursing at the University of Tennessee in Nashville (1977), was executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association (1965-76), chaired the nursing department at Northeast Mississippi Junior College (1963-65), was head nurse in pediatrics at University Hospital in Jackson, Miss. (1957-59) and was assistant head nurse at Baylor University Hospital in Dallas. (1956-57).

She was a member of First Baptist Church of Mt. Juliet and was active in churches in Texas and Mississippi.

Mrs. Culpepper is survived by her husband, H. Royce Culpepper Jr., and their four children, H. Royce III, DeMoyne, Bruce and Mathew. DeMoyne Culpepper, R.N., is a computer systems analyst with VUMC Health and Wellness.

Burial services were conducted March 28 at Mt. Juliet Memorial Gardens. A memorial service will be held April 9, at 1 p.m., at First Baptist church of Mt. Juliet. Memorial contributions may be made to Alive Hospice or Gideons International.