County Honors Cullman Family

Kate Cullman Hedges, the daughter of the late Nan Ogburn Cullman, accepts a framed resolution from Johnston County Commissioners. Prior to her death in 2015, Mrs. Cullman bequeathed $2 million to Johnston County for scholarships for school students. Hedges flew from London to Smithfield on Monday to accept the resolution on behalf of the Cullman family. Photo

On Monday, the daughter of Nan Ogburn Cullman accepted a framed resolution on behalf of her family for a $2 million gift her mother set aside for Johnston County Schools prior to her death.

Mrs. Cullman’s daughter, Kate Cullman Hedges, flew to the United States from her home in London to accept the award.

Nan Ogburn Cullman was born in Smithfield in 1929. At the age of 15 she won a scholarship to attend Julliard School in New York. She later studied at Columbia University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany.  She performed with regional opera companies and choral societies including the Westchester Opera Company.

A singer, explorer and the wife of the retired vice chairman of Philip Morris, Hugh Cullman, she was very active with civic organizations.

Upon her death in May 2015, she bequeathed $2 million to benefit the local schools.

In June, the Johnston County Board of Commissioners created the Nan Ogburn Cullman Education Endowment for Johnston County, which will be administered by the NC Community Foundation (NCCF).  In accordance with Cullman’s wishes, grants will be awarded to students to enhance learning in the areas of art, travel and leadership with preference being given to grant requests from the Smithfield Selma High School district, the area where she lived as a child.

“What a privilege it is to be here today, to be able to thank you on behalf of my family for this resolution and for your outstanding stewardship of my mother’s gift through the establishment of the Nan Ogburn Cullman Education Endowment,” Kate Hedges said.

“I’m particularly pleased to be here today as it gives me a chance to thank Johnston County, through you, for my own education. Now my CV says that I was educated in New York but I am sure you can appreciate, there is no school up north that can compete with an Ogburn woman with a Johnston County education. So I very proudly consider myself a product of your school system too.”

“It was a Johnston County education that got my mother to the Julliard School of Music in New York at 15. It was a Johnston County education that got her up and down the world’s most challenging mountains.”

“Thank you Commissioners for this splendid resolution and for everything that you do to advance education in this county. My father, Hugh Cullman, my sister, Alexa Haslingden, and my brother, Hugh Cullman Jr., thank you as well.”

An advisory committee comprised of 7 members will assist with the grant process each year. It will include one member each from the Board of Commissioners, Johnston County Principal’s Association, Johnston County Education Foundation, Johnston County Art’s Council, SSS High Principal, Johnston County Community Fund Advisory Board, and a representative from the Cullman family.