N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--April 1998

Sandhills Nurse Still Enjoys Work at 70

McCain - Lois Culler celebrated her 70th birthday March 27. At an age when most people are enjoying retirement, Culler still works as a nurse five days a week. It’s not that she is unfamiliar with the concept of retirement - she’s tried it three times. She just can’t seem to stay away from nursing for very long.

"I’ve flunked retirement," Culler said. "I just really love nursing, and I’m happiest when I’m working."

Next month will mark Culler’s one-year anniversary as a contract nurse at Sandhills Youth Institution, and she said she has loved every minute of it. "This is the best nursing position that I have ever had," she said. "I’m really enjoying this."

Don Wood, superintendent at Sandhills said he feels fortunate to have Culler working at his facility. "She’s such a caring person. She’s very thorough and just does an outstanding job," he said.

Culler began her nursing career at Moore County Hospital 52 years ago, while she was still in high school. The year was 1946, right after World War II, and the hospital was short of help, so the staff trained anyone willing to learn. Each evening after school, Culler would work in the emergency room until 10 p.m. Her love affair with nursing had just begun.

Culler had hoped to go to nursing school after high school and was offered enough money from the local VFW to cover all of her expenses. However, she discovered that the VFW had gotten the money from selling of alcohol, and decided that she could not accept it. Instead, Culler married her boyfriend, Grady - virtually ending all hopes of a nursing career.

"At that time, if you were married, you were not allowed to enter nursing school," she said. "I still wanted to be a nurse, but the law would not allow it."

So for the next 13 years, Culler traveled the world with her husband, who was in the Air Force, and raised their three children.

In 1960, everything changed. "We were living in Amarillo, Texas, and I heard on the radio that the laws had changed, and married women could now go to nursing school," she said. Culler immediately enrolled in the licensed vocational nursing program at Amarillo College. She graduated in 1961, second in her class.

During the next five years, Culler worked as a licensed nurse at several hospitals and at an ophthalmology office in Texas and California before returning to North Carolina, where she enrolled in the registered nursing program at Sandhills Community College.

After graduation, Culler then worked for Moore Regional Hospital and for another ophthalmologist before foot problems caused her to retire for the first time at the age of 55. After two years of retirement, Culler said she felt the need to nurse again and went back to work at a Baptist camp for girls. Four years later, she retired for the second time. Within a year, however, she was back nursing, this time at Pinehurst Nursing Center. In 1997 at the age of 69, she retired again.

"I was really retired this time," Culler said. "I really meant it." And then a friend who had been working as a nurse at Sandhills told Culler that she was leaving and that she had recommended Culler for the position. So, once again, for the fourth time, Culler traded in retirement for nursing - her family was not surprised.

"My family knows I’m a nurse," she said. "I really enjoy it, and it gives me something to do." u

NC DOC Correction News- April 1998
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