Berent Ottun Culp departed for the great elk camp in sky on Aug. 17. He had been ill for months, but died unexpectedly from a heart attack. Berent — known as Ber to most and as BerPa to his grandkids — lived most of his life in Okanogan County.
Ber was born Oct. 10, 1944, to Alice and Howard Culp as the first of their five children. He grew up in Twisp. He told of hiking and camping all through the Twisp River drainage with his younger brother Trygve and skiing at the Loup back when the only lift was a rope tow. His family suspects that he also read a large selection of the books in the Twisp library. He and best buddy Joe Richter painted the “63” that is still visible on the rocks above Twisp. After graduation, Ber worked to save enough money to travel to Europe for three months, visiting family that lived in Paris, and watching the 1964 winter Olympics in Austria with his brother Trygve.
Upon returning from Europe, Ber entered ROTC and attended the University of Idaho, where he met Ardella Pullen at a college dance. They married in January 1967, a bond that lasted 53 years with two children and four grandchildren. Ber served three years in the U.S. Army, including two years stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Following his time in the Army, Ber worked with his Dad and brothers building and maintaining trails in the Horseshoe Basin area of the Pasayten Wilderness and ski patrolling at Mission Ridge and Keystone in Colorado. In 1975, he moved with his young family to Salmon, Idaho, where he ran a small family ranch and took up cowboying for pay. He moved back to Okanogan County in 1979 where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.
Working the range became Ber’s lifelong passion. Over his life, he moved from cowboying to training horses to working for the U.S. Forest Service. When Ber gave up his saddle and spurs for a hardhat and Nomex, he ended up working about 20 years for the Forest Service. Though he worked in the timber and range departments, his favorite times were spent fighting wildland fires. He developed many enduring friendships in all his endeavors, and loved to reminisce about times in the mountains and on fires.
After retiring from the Forest Service, he spent his last working years before retirement working for Okanogan Land Trust. He was passionate about the management and protection of rangelands, forests and hunting habitats. For about 30 years, he worked to support the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and was an enthusiastic life member. He was a longtime volunteer patroller at the Loup.
In Ber’s final years of life, his favorite place was on his front porch telling stories with family and friends and watching cows meander the sagebrush hillside across the river. His grandkids always brought an extra sparkle to his eyes. He loved Okanogan County landscapes, ranching, skiing, hunting, family and friends.
Berent Culp was preceded in death his parents Howard and Alice (Rappe) Culp, and brother Trygve Culp. He is survived by his wife, Ardella; daughter Rocklynn and son Terje (Jessica); grandchildren Hazel, Jeret, Karlin and Ruby; siblings Barbara (Andy Goulding), Chris (Peg Callaway), and Nick (Audrey Cullen); sister-in-law Janet (Trygve) Culp; and numerous nieces and nephews. He figured out a way to call each of his family members his favorite.
The family welcomes donations in his honor to the Loup Loup Ski Education Foundation, Loup Loup Ski Patrol, or Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.