Services Thursday for former Sports Editor Rick Cullen

A funeral service will be held Thursday for Richard Lee “Rick” Cullen, 74, the longtime Daily Times Sports Editor who died Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, at his home in Delmar.

Born Sept. 2, 1943, in Salisbury, he was a son of the late Charles M. Cullen and Marguerite Pusey Cullen.

He lived in Delmar for the majority of his life, graduating from Delmar High School with the Class of 1961. His father was the town’s police chief for many years.

In high school, Cullen was a standout athlete and was a star player on the Delmar Wildcats state championship football team of 1959.

After attending Missouri Valley College, Cullen returned to Delmar and landed a job at the Salisbury Times, working as a reporter and photographer in the Sports Department under legendary Sports Editor Ed Nichols.

Two years later, Cullen left the newspaper to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

Following his military service, he returned home to Delmar and returned to The Daily Times as a news beat reporter. In 1972, he succeeded Nichols as Sports Editor, a position he held until his retirement in 1996.

Cullen’s popular “Sports Of The Times” column appeared several days each week and was a must-read for all local sports fans. He would highlight the personal stories of local athletes, be they college stars, high school standouts or rec league players.

Always a great athlete, he excelled at tennis and golf. When the National Indoors Tennis Championships were played in Salisbury in the 1960s and ‘70s, Cullen would routinely participate in practice sessions with the visiting tennis professionals. He was personal friends with the likes of Rod Laver, Stan Smith, Jimmy Connors, Ilie Nastase, Charlie Pasarell and Cliff Ritchey.

He was an expert in professional baseball and football, and a sentimentally faithful fan of the Cleveland Indians. An intense fan of the Baltimore Colts, he managed to convert that love to the Baltimore Ravens.

As Daily Times Sports Editor, he routinely interviewed and wrote about all of the region’s greatest professional athletes, from Johnny Unitas to Cal Ripken.  

He ensured that the newspaper’s local sports news report featured every sporting activity taking place in Salisbury — from bowling leagues to church softball to club golf events. Girls’ sports was given equal billing to the boys’ contest, which was unique for that era.

The Daily Times sport pages never missed a single high school football or basketball game, ranging from Colonel Richardson to Indian River to Snow Hill to Arcadia. Every game was reported and every standout athlete was given his or her due.

Cullen was also known to employ innovative news page designs to preview big sporting events, often employing humor and a sense of mischief to the sports report.

He developed personal relationships with every coach and assistant coach who ever set foot on a field or court; coaches by the dozens would stop by his desk in the East Carroll Street Newsroom, where the discussion was local athletic performances, predicted outcomes and — always — local sports history.

In 1999, he went back to work in the newspaper business, joining Morning Star Publications in Seaford as an Advertising Consultant, a position that he held at the time of his death. In his nearly 20 years on the business side of the media industry, he made countless new friends and worked with customers in Sussex and Wicomico counties.

Cullen was a member of St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church in Delmar for many years.

Cullen was an avid golfer who loved playing at Hooper’s Landing in Seaford and was a past member of Seaford Golf & Country Club and Sussex Pines.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Judith Long Cullen; a daughter, Lee R. Cullen of Delmar; sons, David Frey of Delmar, Matthew Frey of Springfield, Va., and Jonathan Frey of Laurel; seven grandchildren, Cristina Frey, Caitlin Stiegler, Bailey Frey, Lauren Frey, Cameron Frey, Mason Frey and Benn Frey; two great-grandchildren; and a nephew, Eric Cullen of New Jersey.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Charles M. Cullen; and a special uncle and aunt, Richard and Mabs Cullen.

A memorial service will be held today, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at 1 p.m. at Short Funeral Home in Delmar, where family and friends may call from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Reverend Phyllis Walton will officiate.

Memorial contributions may be made in his memory to St. Stephen’s United Methodist Church, 101 East State Street, Delmar, DE 19940 or to Delmar High School, Delmar Football Team, c/o David Hearn, 200 North 8th Street, Delmar, DE 19940.

Arrangements are in the care of Short Funeral Home in Delmar. Online condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.shortfh.com.

 

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