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Obituary of Bryan Ray Culbertson
Culbertson, Bryan, 77, of Caldwell, passed away, Friday, March 10, 2023 at a local hospital. Services are under the direction of Accent Funeral Home, Meridian.
How do you describe someone who was larger than life in just a few paragraphs? The answer is…you can’t but here we go.
Bryan Ray Culbertson, Sr. was born on November 21, 1945 in San Jose, California to his parents, Tessie Francis Lindsey and Earl William Culbertson, who adored him. His big sister, Betty Kay, was four years old when he was born and he was four years old when his little sister, Barbara Lynn, was born and he was her idol. She followed him everywhere and he let her.
Bryan grew up in Hayward, California and had a great childhood that started off a lifetime of stories to tell. One time he tried to ride his bike through the tunnel under the railroad track near his home, but missed and ended up chipping his front tooth on the concrete (and he wore that with a badge of honor the rest of his life). Another time, he got himself in trouble when he zoomed down the hill on his bike to go through the perfectly timed green light at the bottom, only to do so right in front of his mother, who was stuck at the red light and watched him race by.
Growing up, Bryan’s family went to Yosemite every year and it made a huge impact on his life. Many memories were made there. Including: being tied to a tree as a 2 year old so he wouldn’t run away; catching a blue jay with his bare hands, which impressed his little sister to no end; and petting a bear while it happily ate trash from the garbage area. Later in life, he would pass down this love of Yosemite on to his grandchildren, although they were not allowed to pet the bears.
When Bryan was around 10 years old, after watching an episode of Walt Disney Presents called “Rusty and the Falcon”, he fell in love with falconry, and eventually became a master falconer. He had many birds of prey over his lifetime. Of which, he took 1000s of pictures, but his first was a little sparrowhawk. He made many friends because of falconry, including Steve, Snick, and Blair.
Bryan was raised walking hand in hand with God and was baptized at the age of 12. He loved the church and was a bible class teacher, ran the sound system, but his strong suit was leading singing. His family was a singing family and he had a beautiful tenor voice. When he led singing at church, he always made sure to smile—so much so that someone stopped him after church to tell him he had smiled too much!
In the spring of 1962, at Sunset High School, Bryan met the love of his life, Donna Vankirk. It was his junior year and her senior year. He was walking down the hall, saw her walking the opposite way, spun around, put his arm around her shoulder and said, “Where you going? I’ll walk you to class.” That spring, she asked him to go to her senior ball and he said yes. After going their separate ways for a few years, they got back together and never looked back. They were married in 1968. They had 2 children: Bryan Jr. and Stefanie Lynn.
Bryan met the other love of his life, Richard Sutton, when he, his wife Lori, and their three young daughters (who became daughters to him – Jill, Heather, and Nicole) moved to Hayward and into his heart in 1981. The two men shared everything in common from a love of camping, hunting, fishing, and knives to taking Sunday afternoon naps in Richard and Lori’s bed and lazy drives to go look at the flowers. Richard and Lori moved to Caldwell in 1988 (the same place Bryan and Donna had dreamed of moving to in 1977) and so Bryan and Donna became native Idahoans shortly after in 1990. Bryan loved the 11 acres they had and with dedicated care from family, friends, and his wife he was able to stay there until his death.
For most of his working life Bryan was a proud sheet-rocker with his partner Snick. No one would know, unless they watched, how much talent it takes to cut precise pieces of sheetrock to create a completely covered wall because that workmanship is always covered up. But everyone who has ever smashed their own finger with a hammer trying to nail one nail into a wall knows the talent it takes to do it 1000s of times every day without ending up with a flat hand.
Bryan learned to fly and pursued a career as a commercial pilot until all the Vietnam veterans came home and so instead he became a private pilot and then flight instructor. Bryan ended up leaving that profession to do sheetrocking but he never abandoned his love of flying. He had a beautiful Cessna 182 for many years. Later in life when he had his LVAD placed at the University of Utah he asked his doctor if he could still fly his plane and the doctor agreed as long as Bryan didn’t fly over his hospital.
Bryan was also an amazing photographer. It was incredibly difficult to do pictures for the slide show because he was always taking pictures of other people, or his falcons, or the beautiful scenery around him. He made sure to bring his camera to every event and when he was younger there was dread in everyone on Christmas Day knowing Bryan was going to bring a lamp for lighting that was brighter than 1000 suns.
As invincible as Bryan seemed, he had always had a bad heart and 1993 began the first of many years of heart trouble. In 2017 he was just the right amount of almost dead to receive a Left Ventricle Assist Device or LVAD. The LVAD blessed Bryan with almost 6 more years of life. It was never an easy road but he bore the weight of the LVAD for him to be able to stay and be with those he loved a little longer. If he could be here right now he would. Bryan fought for every last breath to be with all of us for just one moment longer. Bryan took his first steps in heaven on Friday, March 10, 2023 as he was being supported from behind by Donna and on either side by Bryan Jr. and Stefanie taking his last steps here on earth. He left this world completely surrounded by love as he was welcomed into the loving arms of Jesus and all of his loved ones before him.
Bryan loved so many things about this world that God created. He loved fishing, hunting, camping, waterskiing, falconry, photography, the outdoors, Yosemite, Clark Fork, cooking, eating Chinese food and sandwiches, reading, flying, singing, his children, his grandchildren, his friends, his wife, his full head of hair, but above all he loved the Lord and he loved the Lord’s church. And because of that we can be confident that we will see him again.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Bryan Culbertson, please visit Tribute Store