In Memoriam – Robert W. Cullifer, DTM.
Surrounded by his loving family, Robert “Bob” W. Cullifer passed away at home on July 1, 2022, after a 16-month fight with esophageal cancer.
Bob was a well-known and beloved member of District 39. His absence is keenly felt by all who knew him.
Originally, Bob followed his wife Debra into Toastmasters. She recalls, “He only started because I needed one more person to start Pallet Movers at the time in the early 2000’s. Then he helped me start Old Town Talkers and was a member there until right before his death. We worked well together!!” Indeed, Toastmasters was a family affair for the Cullifers. Sons Jonathan and Daniel joined their parents in a Toastmasters experience marked by service and leadership.
Active in several clubs through the years as a club officer and mentor, Bob was also a highly regarded and key leader in District 39. He served in many ways including Area Director, Judge, Chief Judge, and Club Officer Trainer. Bob was a familiar and friendly face at District events where he put his love of photography to work as District Photographer.
Bob helped start new clubs, including Old Town Talkers in 2008. This club still meets at the historic Landmark Baptist Church (built in 1860) in Folsom, California, of which Bob served as pastor for 33-plus years. As he did for various Folsom community groups, Bob generously offered his church as a venue for club meetings and events, and District contests and training.
Always quick to welcome people to meetings and make them feel comfortable, Bob would shake your hand when you came to a meeting, shake your hand when you left, and often shook your hand sometime in between.
Former Old Town Talkers member Dustin Seberger recalls of Bob, “You were always quick with a joke and fun to be with. You inspired many of us to grow to be our best in many ways.” Nick Elliott, Club President, penned “I fondly remember Bob’s candor, good sense of humor, and friendly demeanor during our meetings.” Desi Menendez, Vice President Membership, said “Bob Cullifer’s leadership and mentorship had an inspirational imprint that will last forever to everyone who participated at Old Town Talkers Toastmasters club alongside Bob.”
Bob’s gift of humor is legendary to all who knew him. Ryan Peterson shared that when he first visited a Toastmasters meeting (online) it was Bob’s humor that eased his anxiety. Bob always sought to put people at ease whether it was by delivering an encouraging evaluation of a frightened member’s Icebreaker, intervening in support of a member struggling in a role, or quietly encouraging a speech contestant nervously waiting at the back of the room for her turn at the lectern.
We remember Bob with love and gratitude for his many years of generous service to Toastmasters, and on behalf of District 39, we offer our sincere condolences to his bride of almost 50 years, Debra, his sons Jonathan, Jeremy, and Daniel, and the rest of the Cullifer family.
A memorial service was held at Landmark Baptist Church in Folsom, CA on July 11, 2022.