Kip Culver, the captivating and much loved director of the Globe Main Street Program and Cobre Valley Center for the Arts, died on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at his home in Globe, Ariz.
Considered by many to have been one of Globe’s greatest assets, Mr. Culver was a passionate champion of historic preservation and Globe’s downtown district, as well as a life long supporter of the arts and theater.
His work in downtown development and historic preservation gained recognition across the state and among those in rural economic development who looked to his successes and expertise in crafting their own programs. In 2007, he was awarded the Governors’ Award for Excellence for his work in bringing an excursion train to Globe and recognized by many others including the State Historic Preservation Office, Local First Arizona and Trost & Trost Preservation Society for his efforts in preserving Globe’s heritage.
As the driving force and creative energy behind a decade of progress involving the arts center and downtown district, Mr. Culver was known as a master at bringing the right elements together and helping to orchestrate solutions, whether leading the way on a project or quietly assisting others.
He constantly engaged the assistance of friends, family and the greater community in caring for and about their hometown and was good at enlisting volunteers to his causes which were often done in spite of limited resources and little funding.
“Like a pied piper, Kip made hard work seem like fun and you weren’t going to miss it.” says his sister Leora Hunsaker. He led the way whether it was getting on a ladder to repaint storefronts, using a lift to replace cornices or renting a roll-off to muck out a building.
“Seeing how hard Kip worked, and how passionate he was about this town, made you want to be a part of it and whatever he was working on,” says one volunteer.
His accomplishments include several milestones such as the Copper Spike Excursion Train, restoration of the historic 1916 train depot and freight office, electrical upgrades for the arts center, a new roof for St. John’s Episcopal church, the rescue of the Tepee, a major streetscaping project for the historic district, the addition of wayfinding signage, the new facade for the 1910 Territorial Jail, restored rooms on the second and third floors of the arts center and the new elevator.
Mr. Culver, who was born and raised in the Globe-Miami community, graduated at the top of his class from Miami High School in 1986 and went on to attend Arizona State University where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in broadcast journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. After graduation, Mr. Culver interned in L.A. at Entertainment Tonight and later worked in promotions for the Chanticleer Film Company (1990 – 1992), and spent a season with the Shakespeare Conservatory in Scottsdale in 1995. Although it would be ten years before Mr. Culver would again take the stage, when he found himself back in Globe, he quickly began to make up for lost time, becoming an integral part of the Copper Cities Community Players.
He began acting with the Copper Cities Community Players in 2003 in their production of Four Plays for Coarse Actors. Since that time he performed in over 25 productions, among his most memorable roles are Uncle Fester in The Addams Family: A Musical Comedy, Jean-François Millet/Widow Daisy Tillou in Mark Twain’s Is He Dead?, Prince Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress, George Hay in Moon Over Buffalo, and as one of the Christmas Pixies which were characters of his own creation that he reprised in two plays. Mr. Culver also contributed to the Old Courthouse Theater as a playwright, penning as many as eight stage plays. Of particular note is the musical Justa Cafe, that he wrote about the Globe-Miami community that he loved and to which he had dedicated his life.
Mr. Culver discovered a kindred spirit when he met Molly Cornwell and performed opposite of her in the 2003 production of Once Upon a Mattress. Sharing a wicked sense of humor, stagecraft, love of community and passion for Globe’s downtown, their connection both on and off stage would continue to create magic in the downtown district for the next fourteen years.
Mr. Culver’s family fondly recall his zest for life and the magnetic personality which made him unstoppable from an early age. His life and laughter were a continual source of inspiration and joy where they recall he often incorporated his love of old movies with love of family -sentencing family members to “follow scripts and throw sanity aside in pursuit of perfection,” resulting in dozens of short family films.
“Growing up with Kip was like being tormented… in a good way,” laughs niece Hilary Williams.
Survivors include mother Joan Culver of Globe, sister Leora Hunsaker of Globe, nephew Tanner Hunsaker (Wendy) of Globe, niece Hilary Williams (Sean) of Buckeye, sister Shawna Carnahan (Bob) of Arkansas, niece Mandy Wigman of Pennsylvania, nephew Beau Wigman (Monica) of Prescott, nephew Lex Wigman of Prescott, and six grand nieces and nephews and his loving partner, Molly Cornwell.
He is preceded in death by his father Ted Culver, his maternal grandparents Anna Lou and Barney Sullivan, and his paternal grandparents Isabelle and Bill Culver.
Memorial Services will be held at 10:00 a.m. at Miami High School auditorium, Miami, Ariz. with a reception at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts, 101 N. Broad Street, Globe, Ariz. from 12 p.m.- 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts.
Writer, photographer. Passionate foodie, lover of good books and storytelling. Lives in Globe. Plays in the historic district. Travels when possible.