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“An Owen County treasure.”
These are just a few of the words that friends, colleagues and family members had to say about Dr. Oscar Abbett “O.A.” Cull, who passed away Sunday following a long illness.
Three generations of Owen countians may remember Cull as the man who brought them into the world, cared for them and built a bond of friendship, respect and appreciation as a forever friend to the people of his community.
Despite a lifetime of caring for others, he didn’t always hear the call of medicine.
Cull had originally intended to become a chicken farmer.
He would have a change of heart after his buddies got drafted to World War II. Cull soon enlisted and was sent to the 100th U.S. Army Medical Corps.
“He ended up being assigned to anesthesiology,” Cull’s son Bob Cull said. “They taught him how to do that. He was always behind lines, but in the hospitals in surgeries and treating wounded soldiers.”
When it was time for Cull to head back to the states, he talked with his commanding officer who was going back to be a professor of medicine at the University of Louisville.
Cull graduated from UofL in 1950 and after a short internship in Lansing, Mich. went to Corinth, where there was a shortage of doctors.
Shortly thereafter, construction on Owenton’s hospital was completed and Cull began using the facility for his practice.
In 1956, Cull moved to Owenton to get closer to the hospital. He would continue to practice medicine until his retirement in 2007 at the age of 85.
“I think he felt a great obligation to the hospital,” Bob Cull said. “In the ‘60s, Dr. (Maurice) Bowling got sick and wasn’t able to practice all the time, so at times he was the only practicing doctor in town. There was a time when we thought we would lose the hospital, so even at 65- and 70-years old, he kept practicing to keep the hospital going.”
Aside from his medicine, Bob Cull said his father was a knife lover who made a few knives, at one time enjoyed making smoking pipes, played with photography and was an avid motorcycle rider.
“He played drums, guitar and piano a little bit,” Bob Cull said. “He played mostly by ear with four other guys. They would play for the seniors every now and then. He wasn’t a great musician, sometimes he’d be playing a different song than the other guys.”
Owenton businessman Stuart Bowling said when Cull or his father Maurice Bowling diagnosed a patient, the patients trusted, listened to and did as they said.
“(Cull) was a very special person that was near and dear to so many in the community,” Bowling said. “He was just amazing.”
Cull delivered babies in the community from 1952-70 and sometimes afterward. He had a unique way of putting shoulders back in place and during the last few years of his career was primarily a geriatric doctor for those who had been with him since the beginning.
New Horizons Medical Center Administrator and Chairperson Bernie Poe said he sometimes rode motorcycles with Cull and that there will never be another like him.
“No one can imagine the hours toward medical care that he gave in this community,” Poe said. “He has really been a treasure and should be one of the most appreciated.”
Dr. Larry Johnson said when he first moved to Owen County a banner hung across Main Street that read, “We Need Doctors.”
“He was doing everything,” Johnson said. “He was carrying the load for a good deal of time. You don’t come across people like him anymore -- people who have the devotion, the time and the knowledge.”
During the later years of his career, Bob Cull, Poe and Johnson each said he kept up on all of the latest medical journals and practices.
“He always like to read up on that stuff,” Bob Cull said. “He would ask one of the younger doctors a question and they would sneak off and look up the answer on the Internet. He thought they were the smartest guys that ever lived.”
Visitation will be held Thursday from 4-8 p.m. at the Main Street location of McDonald and New Funeral Homes.
Services for Dr. Cull will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Owenton First Baptist Church. He was 90-years-old.
“I mainly hope he’ll be remembered for the service and dedication he gave this county,” Bob Cull said. “He loved to practice medicine and he loved to take care of the people of Owen County. The primary thing in his life was to do that.”