Tombstone Tuesday: Halloween Decorations Forever

Christine Gilliard Culley
January 3, 1930-September 1, 2009

Forest Green Park Cemeteries & Mausoleums
Morganville, New Jersey
Grave 34D: Row E, Grave 10
(Volunteer post on Find-A-Grave)

     In June of 2010, I went to New York for a family research trip to find out more about my mother, Betty Mae Peters life growing up in Sugar Hill.  I also went with the  purpose of finding and visiting my mother’s first cousin, Christine G. Culley, who is the only child of Violet Jones & Wendell P. Culley, a trumpet player who played in Count Basie’s band. 

     I was saddened by the fact, that when I arrived at her apartment (she had lived there since her birth), that she had passed 9 months prior to my arrival.  I realized that it was going to take me some time to find out who handled her affairs, and get more information on who Christine Culley was.  

     Within a few months, I was able to make a connection with the executor (Karen) of her estate, thanks to the owner of the apartment.  Since that time, Karen and I have kept in touch, as she has become most helpful to me and the history of Christine & her family.

     I have found Christine to have been an interesting soul, and pray that she is resting in peace.

(Portion of an email sent to me by Karen) 

August 31, 2010

She loved all holidays — but Halloween was an esp. fav of hers, and I’m sure much of that was connected with its spiritual associations.  She frequently joked about still having the decorations up all over apt. — it became a running joke with us, and why I felt (unconventional Bohemian that she is) it would please her to have the headstone read “Halloween decorations forever” (although I didn’t discuss the headstone with her since the brief discussion I precipitated on the subject upset her…but I had to get some idea of her wishes).

 Chris had vaguely indicated she would like a priest (the local parish ended up graciously giving her a FULL high mass, even bringing in an organist and singer who performed one of her favs and mine, Schubert’s Ave Maria— 3 of the nuns closest to her and I were her pall bearers; I also half-teased if she’d also like a wicha service and she’d brightened:  “THAT would be nice, too!” but we feared her befriended nuns would be scandalized, LOL) — and that she wanted to be buried “somewhere with a lot of nature and green” (not much to go on, LOL) — but it was indeed comforting to see all the trees and wild geese strutting around the grounds out there when the day came.

A few of the 200 photos sent to me of Christine’s apartment

Wendell Culley’s trumpet in the background

More about Christine (Past Post)

Yes, Christine may have been different than the “norm” but isn’t that what makes our family stories so rich with flavor?


The material, both written and photographic on these pages is the copyright of Yvette Porter Moore unless stated. Material on this site may be used for personal reference only. If you wish to use any of the material on this site for other means, please seek the written permission of Yvette Porter Moore
© 2010-2011

2 thoughts on “Tombstone Tuesday: Halloween Decorations Forever

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