Paul Elroy Culver, Jr., most notably "Coach Culver," passed away peacefully at his home in his "man cave" on February 9th, 2022 at the age of 72, after a courageous five-year battle with cancer.
Born January 7th, 1950 to the late Paul Elroy Culver, Sr. and Nalda Culver (née Slater) in Athens, Ohio, he was the oldest son of what would become six children. At a young age, he moved from Pomeroy, Ohio to The Plains, Ohio where, because of his beloved grandfather his never-ending love of football would begin. Paul, or "Pete" as he was affectionately called, moved to Cadiz, Ohio in the 8th grade and then onto Hopedale, Ohio where he would graduate from Hopedale High School in 1968. While at Hopedale, he was an exceptional 3-sport athlete and letterman. He proudly attended West Liberty State College and was the first in his family to obtain a college education. His love for the game of football continued in college where he played for the Hilltoppers, graduating in 1972, all the while working the night shift in local steel mills and coal mines to pay his tuition.
After college, Paul began his coaching career as the freshman football coach for Cadiz High School but was ultimately let go at the end of the season despite finishing 6-0.
In 1973, at just 23 years old, he applied for and was offered the Head Coach and History teacher position at Glouster Trimble High School. He spent six seasons (1973-1978) with the Tomcats who, prior to him, had not enjoyed a winning season in many years. Coach Culver left Trimble with a 37-18-4 record and was later inducted into the Trimble Athletic Hall of Fame in 2019. He always held a special place in his heart for the town of Glouster and its Tomcats. It was during his time in Glouster that Paul met and married his cherished wife, Barbara, in 1974 after a brief courtship. If he were here writing this, he would tell you that the single greatest choice he ever made in life was marrying her.
In 1976, Paul and Barb welcomed their first child, a son, Paul Elroy Culver III, more commonly known as "Little Paul" or "PC3."
Wanting to return to the Ohio Valley, Coach Culver accepted a position with Buckeye North High School in 1979 and moved the family to Smithfield, Ohio. He coached the Huskies in the 1979 and 1980 seasons, and was named the 1980 OVAC Coach of the Year.
In 1979, Paul and Barb welcomed their second son, Chad, who was given the nickname "Moe" by Paul's longtime friend and fellow Tomcats coach, Ed Bolin.
In 1981, Coach Culver accepted the Head Coach position at a relatively unknown school in the middle of a corn field- Sheridan High School. His first four seasons at Sheridan, 1981-1984, were losing seasons with an overall record for the Generals of 10-30. Despite a few requests to go elsewhere, Coach Culver remained determined.
The 1985 season resulted in a 10-2 record, an MVL Championship, and a Regional Runner-Up. The 'Red Rage' fever was alive. The Generals saw their second MVL Championship and playoff appearance in 1986 with a 10-1 record.
Also in 1986, Paul and Barb welcomed their only daughter, Erica, to the family.
In the storybook 1987 season, Coach Culver and the Generals amassed a 13-1 record with another MVL Championship, a Regional Championship, and the school's first and only state championship appearance.
Did we mention prior to the 1987 season that Paul and Barb welcomed twin boys, Kevin and Kyle, to the family? Three babies in diapers. Five kids 10 and under. Coach Culver and his family had found their home.
He would go on in his career at Sheridan to accumulate an unparalleled 272 wins making him the winningest football coach in MVL history, and bringing his overall career record to a laudable 324-132-5. In his 35 years at Sheridan, before retiring in 2015, Coach Culver's accomplishments included: 14 MVL Championships; 17 playoff appearances; 2 Regional Championships; 1 State Runner-Up title; and 1 AP State title. He was also a 3-time Southeastern Ohio District Division III Coach of the Year; 14-time MVL Coach of the Year; a 2014 Inductee into the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame; and a 2016 Inductee into Sheridan's Athletic Hall of Fame. Sheridan's football stadium bears his name in tribute and honor, and he is ranked in the top 10 winningest coaches in Ohio High School football history.
What is far more remarkable than any record, award, or achievement is the countless numbers of lives he touched and impacted over his 40+ year teaching and coaching career. He preached commitment, loyalty, hard work, camaraderie, tradition, and of course, the Right Mental Attitude. He was a leader, an inspirer, a hero, a builder of men, and a father figure to many.
Off the football field, Paul was a family man to his core. He loved his family more than anything, especially his 14 grandchildren. Above 'Coach,' 'Dad' and 'Grandpa' were his most treasured titles. There is not enough time in the day to adequately describe the father and grandfather he was. He is so greatly loved and will be missed beyond words.
Simply put, there will never be another like him.
Surviving is the real head coach of it all, his loving wife of 47 years, Barb; his five children and their spouses: Paul III (Brandy); Chad (Holly); Erica (JT); Kevin (Kelly); and Kyle (Grace); his fourteen grandchildren: Elleigh; Paul IV (Pete); Cade; Mia; Lily; Isla; Kai; Kam; Everleigh; Colt; Caroline; Katherine; Ivy; and Elizabeth. In addition, he is survived by his sisters, Lynn and Bizzy, and brother, Tom, many nieces and nephews, and countless friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Mary, and sister Sharon.
Friends may call from 12-4 PM on Sunday, February 13th at the Sheridan Middle School gym. A private funeral will be held for family and close friends on Monday, followed by a burial at the Lutheran Reformed Cemetery in Thornville. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to The Legacy of the General scholarship fund at the Commodore Bank in Somerset, Ohio.
"Success is the result of mental attitude, and the Right Mental Attitude will bring success in everything you undertake.’’
Bope-Thomas Funeral Home in Somerset is entrusted with the arrangements.