SALISBURY – Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver, age 67, died Sunday after a months-long battle with liver cancer.
Culver’s family announced his passing in a statement issued Sunday.
“The family of County Executive Bob Culver is sad to announce that he passed peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family this morning,” the statement reads. “Well known for his spirit and tenacity, he had fought a courageous battle for several months. More information will follow.”
In February, Culver announced he had been diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma, a form of primary liver cancer. Testing revealed the cancer had spread to 70% of the organ.
Culver was referred to Johns Hopkins Hospital for treatment. Despite the diagnosis, Culver told The Dispatch earlier this year he remained optimistic and would continue in his role as county executive.
“Right now, I feel good, I feel optimistic and I feel strong,” he said in February. “I’m going to beat this as best as I can. I’m not saying there won’t be a few bumps along the way though.”
Culver was first elected to the position of county executive in 2014, defeating incumbent Richard Pollitt. And in 2018, he secured a second term in office after defeating Democratic challenger John Hamilton and Independent challenger Jack Health.
Previously, he had served one term on the Wicomico County Council.
As a result of Culver’s death, Director of Administration John Psota will serve as acting county executive and shall have the same rights, duties, powers and obligations, according to the county’s charter. The Wicomico County Council will have 45 days to permanently fill the position by majority vote.
As Culver was a Republican, the newly appointed county executive must belong to the same political party. The successor will serve the remainder of Culver’s four-year term.
Several state and local officials offered their condolences this week. In a post Sunday, Gov. Larry Hogan said, “Deeply saddened by the passing of my friend Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver, a lifelong Marylander who fought a tremendous battle against liver cancer. The First Lady and I ask that you join us in keeping Bob’s family and loved ones in your prayers.”
State Senator Mary Beth Carozza recognized Culver for service to Wicomico County.
“The passing of our friend, Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver has hit our home community hard, and my heartfelt condolences and prayers are with both the Culver family and Bob’s County family,” she said in a statement. “I have always admired Bob Culver’s passion for serving and working so hard for all of Wicomico County, especially his understanding of how projects, like the Salisbury Regional Airport expansion and the 7 ½ baseball field for individuals with disabilities, benefitted and improved the quality of life in Wicomico County and beyond. Right up until the very end, Bob Culver was fighting for Wicomico County, and that’s inspiring for all of us in public service.”
Salisbury Mayor Jake Day – who is currently on deployment with the U.S. Army – also took time this week to honor Culver and his contributions.
“Born with a servant’s heart, Bob proudly served our county, fighting to make it an even better place to live,” he said in a Facebook post. “As I mourn the loss of my colleague, I will forever cherish the memories we shared as we worked in pursuit of a common goal – that of bettering our community and serving our citizens.”
County Council President Larry Dodd said he was saddened to hear of Culver’s passing.
“When I took over as County Council President this past December I told Bob that I would do my best to work with him and the Executive Branch to help move Wicomico County forward,” he said in a post this week. “Not long after that Bob called me to give me the news of his illness and I promised to keep him in my prayers. Wicomico County’s second County Executive fought a strong fight until the end.”
Culver, a Salisbury native, was raised on a family farm and attended Wicomico County schools, according to his biography. After receiving an associate degree in pre-law from Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C., he transferred to Salisbury University to pursue a major in economics and minor in business administration.
Culver started his career in real estate sales and then owned a construction and land development business, which created four subdivisions in Wicomico County and constructed over 150 homes. Through the years, Culver’s career has evolved into being an entrepreneur, having started and sold several businesses which created jobs for many citizens of Wicomico County.