Betty Jean Stark Cullen

Betty Jean Stark Cullen, 93, of Kansas City, Missouri, died on March 1, 2015. Betty was born December 28, 1921, in Kansas City to John (Skipper) and Elmira (Pinkie) Stark. Pinkie wrote of the John K. Lincoln Farm, also known as the Excelsior Farm, in Clinton County Missouri, where she was raised in a brick antebellum home near Plattsburg:

“The old dirt road, turns through the gate
And leads us home once more
Where peace and love and happiness
Swing wide the walnut door.

I hear my mother’s ‘God bless you dear’
In loving gentle tone I hear her whisper,

‘When life gets hard…Take the old dirt road back home.’”                                                              

Betty is now back home with her heavenly family.

The Starks lived in a family home, the Washington Adams house, atop “suicide hill,” a steep park in Brookside, and entertained family and friends for snow sledding often followed by hot chocolate and a meal. Betty was a lifelong Kansas Citian. She attended Bryant Elementary School and Southwest High School, class of 1939. She graduated from Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, VA in 1943.

Before World War II, Betty and her family traveled to Great Britain, where the Stark family met the Cullen family. Betty fell in love with Doug Cullen, a handsome Royal Air Force officer. Betty and Doug corresponded throughout the war. After flying 27 missions as a bombardier, Doug came to Kansas City where he and Betty were married at Second Presbyterian Church in 1946. Doug and Betty celebrated 64 years of marriage on October 5, 2010.

Betty grew up attending and loving Second Presbyterian Church. She served as a Deacon, an Elder, President of the Women’s Association, and a member of the Mission Committee. She helped start the New Shoe Fund and delighted in seeing children receive good footwear. She volunteered with outreach work at Linwood Presbyterian Church, working with the Rev. Hans Frick and the Rev. Harold Thomas. Betty loved gardening, bird-watching, playing golf, stamp collecting, and traveling with Doug for family visits to Cardiff, Wales.

Over the years, Doug and Betty opened their home to visiting students from other countries including Indonesia, Africa, Germany, and Egypt. They gave their children a legacy of compassion and caring for others. The Cullens not only loved their world neighbors, but also loved their wonderful 59th Terrace neighbors.

Betty was preceded in death by her parents; John, an older brother who died in childhood; her brother and sister-in-law, Gordon and Barbara Stark; her sister and brother-in-law, Caroline and John Records; her sister-in-law, Phyllis E. Cullen; her son, John F. Cullen; and her sweetheart husband, Doug Cullen. Betty is survived by her son, Andrew Cullen (Nancy) of Gladstone, MO.; daughter, Phyllis Strobl (Joe) of Overland Park, KS.; six grandchildren: Katie Cullen, Karen (Brad) Hammond, Christine Cullen, Father Andrew Strobl, Joe Strobl, and John (Erin) Cullen; seven great-grandchildren: Emily, Sophie, and Drew Hiebert; Blake and Hudson Hammond; Wyatt and Garrett Cullen; four nephews: Allan (Nancy) Stark; Ben (Molly) Stark; John (Linda) Records; Frank (Holly) Records, and her “favorite niece,” Julie Records.

The family would like to thank the staff, chaplains, caregivers, and residents of Bishop Spencer Place for their friendship and service during the past three years. Crossroads Hospice also provided exceptional care and support in Betty’s final days.

A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 6, 2015, at Second Presbyterian Church, 318 E. 55th Street, Kansas City, MO. 64113. A reception will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Second Presbyterian Church Memorial Fund, the Bishop Spencer Place Endowment Fund, 4301 Madison Ave., Kansas City, MO 64111, or Crossroads Hospice, 14310 E. 42nd St. South, Unit 600, Independence, MO 64055.

Visits: 1


  1. Marilyn Bigler on March 4, 2015 at 11:16 am

    My very sincere sympathy to Andy and Nancy and all the family and friends. This wonderful lady had an amazing and gifted life. With Respect, Marilyn Bigler

  2. Dennis, Mindy, Shelby, Andrew, and Ethan on March 4, 2015 at 8:24 pm

    Our deepest sympathy, Christine. So sorry for your loss. We are thinking about you.

  3. Rod and Christy Bakker on March 4, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    Dear Andy and Nancy,

    We are saddened to learn that a wonderful encourager, a dear sister saint has left this realm… but we are glad for her gain of heaven. Perhaps you didn’t know that Doug and Betty adopted us as their “grandkids” when we moved to KC in 1984. My kids all called them Grandpa Doug and Grandma Betty! They were “there” for us in so many ways; like when I went into labor with Josh and then 2 years later with Amanda … they watched the kids and took care of them over night. Betty would often drop by during our stint at 2nd … with a little goodie, or a handmade item. My kids still get “their” Christmas pillow case out of the linen closet and put Grandma Betty’s pillowcase on their pillows when they come to our house for Christmas! And Betty was such an encourager to me during those intense mothering years. She would give me gentle guidance and shared much needed wisdom with me. I never lived near my own Mom when I was a mother of kids at home … and so I welcomed her and was greatful for her faithful and practical, incarnational ministry to me. Grandma Betty has and always will have a special place in our hearts. And you will be in our prayers as you go through these days of both grief and celebration. We love you in Jesus Christ,
    Rod and Christy Bakker

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