Kaufman resident Ed Cullers was honored by the American Brahman Breeders Association in a ceremony on February 28 at their annual International Brahman Show for his decades of involvement with the program.
The American Brahman Breeders Association (ABBA) dedicated their 2019 Brahman Show to Cullers, who was an ABBA Director starting from 1979 and the ABBA president from 1991 to 1993.
“With this dedication, Ed Cullers is being recognized for his many years of service to the ABBA,” ABBA recording secretary Armelinda Abarra said. “He has traveled many miles domestically and internationally to promote the Brahman breed and this year he will also be presented with his pen for 40 years of service to the association.”
An ABBA member since 1970 and an ABBA Director since 1979, Ed spent many years acting as an ambassador and steward of the Brahman breed. He was a widely respected livestock judge from 1970 to 2014.
“I never really had a hobby,” Cullers said. “A lot of people like different things like golf or tennis. What I liked was going out and looking at cattle. I still enjoy it to this day.”
Cullers grew up in Bryson, Texas. He graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1960 with a degree in agriculture before serving in the U.S. Army and working for the Humble Oil Company. He married Frances Koonce in 1961, the daughter of Temple Koonce and great granddaughter of J.D. Hudgins.
“There’s two ways to get into the cattle business,” Cullers said. “You either get married or you inherit it. I married it 57 years ago.”
Cullers and Frances had three children: Julie, Joy and Judd. The couple lived together in Lubbock until 1968 when Ed’s father-in-law asked him to help with his brahman operation. The Cullers moved to Hungerford and worked to develop the Koonce-Cullers Division of J.D. Hudgins, Inc. Ed continued working with J.D. Hudgins for 30 years before breaking away in 1998 and creating the Heritage Cattle Company.
Over the course of his life, Ed raised several international champion Brahmin including the 1984 International Grand Champion Bull (+)JDH Atari Manso 601/1 and the 1992 International Grand Champion Bull +JDH Mr. Union Manso 455 which sold to Colombia for $130,000.
During his tenure as president of the ABBA, he was active in developing the ABBA’s relationships with other countries and establishing the American Brahman’s position in the global marketplace. He visited 24 countries promoting the breed and played a pivotal role in orchestrating the sale of more than 1500 head of Brahman cattle to Thailand.
“A lot of times I’d go to a place like South Africa and they’d want me to judge a show while I was there,” Cullers said. “And then they would ask me to give a talk about breeding Brahmin cattle and the advantages of them and the disadvantages of them. It was very interesting; you meet a lot of people and hear a lot of different stories. In any country I’ve been to, I could call somebody now and tell them I was coming and they’d meet me at the airplane. Really good people. Really honest. I was in business for 42 years, and I only got written one hot check. And he came back and made it good later.”
Despite the many people he’s met from traveling abroad, one of his more colorful stories happened right here in the United States when he was judging a large cattle show in California.
“One time I was judging a show in Paloma, California, the largest cattle show in the United States. When I finished, a man came up to me and said ‘I’m retired from MGM. I want to know something; you line up 15 calves out there that are the same age, same size. How do you pick one from the other?’ I said ‘it’s very easy for me, but let me ask you a question. What if I lined up 10 good-looking women out there. Could you pick out the best-looking one?’ ‘Oh yeah! Without any trouble!’ he responded. And I said that’s the way these cattle are with me. He got a real kick out of that.”
Ed retired form the Brahman business in 2012, gave his ranch to his children where it is still in operation today, and moved with his wife to Kaufman County where one of his daughters and her husband reside. His son-in-law Dr. Kent Wilson runs Premier Vision on Ninth Street in Terrell while his daughter teaches music at Kemp ISD.
Outside of the cattle operation, Ed’s friend Rodney Joy got him into the banking business in 1985 and he continues to serve on the First Security Bank Board. He and Frances were also very active in their church and regularly participated in local charity work. The couple still volunteers two days every week with the Assembly of God church in Kaufman to help feed the needy. Cullers often takes some of the food the church gets for their food pantry and distributes it in Ola, an unincorporated community in Kaufman County.
“A lot of people are out there [living] on social security and retirement like I am,” Cullers said with a laugh. “So, it really helps a lot of people.”