Farewell to Margaret Kulp

| July 6, 2011
Margaret Kulp with one of her flower arrangements at the Speed Museum.

Margaret Kulp with one of her flower arrangements at the Speed Museum.

Margaret Kulp died on June 20, 2011, surrounded by her loving family following a brave battle with lung cancer.

First of all, I must keep my promise to Margaret. I saw her last at a book signing for Mary Cobb at the Filson Club on Dec. 22 and she said to me, “Lucie, I just learned I have cancer and I’m going to the hospital tomorrow. If I don’t make it I want you to tell all your readers a message from me: DON’T SMOKE!  My doctors diagnosed the cause of my lung cancer as cigarettes.”

I took this picture of her there to use today in case she didn’t make it. She is standing beneath a beautiful portrait of her great, great, great, great, great-grandmother. I’m sure she’s with her grandmother right now.

I knew Margaret for 40 wonderful years and enjoyed her company, as both of us were passionate about flowers. She was a wonderful gardener, and her favorite flowers were orchids. So I sent her a tiny exquisite orchid, and Barbara’s Florist said she came in all the time and that they would miss her terribly.

Her beautiful and inspiring funeral on June 24 at Calvary Episcopal Church, where she sang in the choir, was filled with friends, heartfelt prayers and readings by her grandsons, Ian Gordon Schottlaender and Wick Bushong. The homily was given by the Rev. Alfred Shands, comforting to all of us grieving for Margaret.

Bob and Margaret Kulp at the Speed.

Bob and Margaret Kulp at the Speed.

The flowers decorating the altar were two fabulous arrangements of pink tree peonies,which bloom later in Maine than in Kentucky. In my mind’s eye, I could see the gardener in Maine going to her garden, cutting the stems of the peonies, keeping them in preservative all night and shipping them overnight to the church.

Margaret left us a magnificent gift, the soaring, gorgeous, opera-quality voice of her lovely daughter, Anita Street, whose heavenly voice filled the church and our hearts with Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” accompanied by the huge choir. Thank you lovely Anita for making your mother live again for us. Margaret is survived by two other daughters, Carol Barr Matton and Barbara Bushong.

Margaret also had a delightful sense of humor. One of my favorite stories was told by world famous gardening expert Sheila McQueen, invited by Margaret to teach at the Speed Museum about flower arranging. Sheila did the coronation flowers at the Guild Hall with huge branches of azalea in riotous colors for Queen Elizabeth II.

She amused us with this story. “I needed four sprigs of privet for my entry to the Chelsea Garden show,” she said. “The only specimens were growing on a 6-inch hedge next door, occupied by a crusty bachelor. I went out at 3 a.m. to snip some off and was horrified when he appeared walking his dog. Red-faced, I confessed and shouted, ‘This is grand larceny!’  He said, ‘I always thought it was privet.’”

Margaret Kulp posed with a painting of one of her ancestors.

Margaret Kulp posed with a painting of one of her ancestors.

I want to thank the Speed Museum, especially Vanessa Johnson, who helped me with this column. And to Ruth Cloudman, chief curator, who sent this beautiful quote: “Margaret was a wonderfully warm person with a real gift for friendship.  She was also a generous and devoted patron of the arts and loved nothing better than sharing her passion for art with others. Her support of the Speed Museum and its Charter Collectors has been truly extraordinary.”

I would like to thank her loving husband, Bob Kulp, who made up the other half of this wonderful team that brought art and beauty to the museum and the community.

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Category: The Social Side

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lucie Blodgett
Always out and about at happenings around town, Lucie Blodgett has been writing a weekly column for The Voice-Tribune for more than two decades.

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