Bob Culpepper spent 12 years as elected official for city

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FARMINGTON — Former Farmington Mayor Robert “Bob” Culpepper, 90, died Sunday.

Culpepper dedicated more than 40 years of his life to serving the community, including spending 12 years as an elected official for the city of Farmington.

He was born on Aug. 23, 1927, to Farmington residents Ethelwyn and Charles C. Culpepper at their home in Farmington.

“It is with great sadness that the city of Farmington learned of the passing of Robert 'Bob' Culpepper,” City Manager Rob Mayes stated in an email statement today. “Bob was a great friend to many of us personally. He was also a shining example of statesmanship and community volunteerism.”

Mayes highlighted Culpepper’s service as mayor from 1978 until 1982 and as a member of the Public Utility Commission from 1983 until 2012.

In addition to his term as mayor, Culpepper was elected to the Farmington City Council in 1970.

During his time as an elected official, Culpepper also was a member of the New Mexico Arts Commission and was the chairman of the commission for part of that time.

When he announced he wouldn't run for re-election as mayor, he highlighted the city's purchase of a share of unit 4 of the San Juan Generating Station as one of the projects he was proud to have accomplished during his four-year term, according to The Daily Times archives.

He served as director of the Farmington Boys Club when he was elected to the City Council. He was a member of Lions Club, Rotary and Elks Lodge. He was active in St. John's Episcopal Church, where he served as a vestryman. Culpepper also served as president of the San Juan College Foundation, and was also a former president of the Farmington Chamber of Commerce and the New Mexico Municipal League.

He was awarded the Farmington Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award in 2008 and was inducted into the Farmington Historymakers Hall of Fame in 1998.

Culpepper graduated from Farmington High School in 1945 and enlisted in the Navy, according to The Daily Times archives. He graduated from New Mexico State University in 1951.

Culpepper met his wife, Mary, while studying at New Mexico State University. They were married in 1953. The couple moved to Albuquerque, where Culpepper worked in a chemical firm. About a year later, the couple moved to Farmington, where Culpepper worked as an insurance agent.

The Culpeppers had two sons and one daughter.

“He and his wife Mary were very generous to our community,” Mayes said. “Most recently as benefactor of the new Native American Museum in downtown Farmington. We extend our deepest condolences to Mary and the entire Culpepper family.”

The Culpeppers donated a building located at the intersection of Behrend Avenue and Main Street to the city of Farmington in 2013 to be used as a Native American art museum. The property has been undergoing renovations and is anticipated to be open by the summer art walk on Friday, June 8.

A service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12 at St. John's Episcopal Church, 312 N. Orchard Ave. in Farmington.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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