Honoring a true Perkasie hero: Frank R. Kulp

Today, the Kulp Memorial Park is one of the most-used facilities in Perkasie Borough, but there are several generations of people who don’t about Frank R. Kulp, the man the park is named after.

Frank Rupley Kulp dedicated much of his adult life to making sure Perkasie Borough was successful, prosperous, and well-run as its first official Borough Manager.

Frank R. Kulp

Perkasie Borough named the facility at Second Street after Kulp in 1979, about a year after he passed away at the age of 56.

Frank’s father was a Lutheran minister and also named Frank. The Rev. Frank Kulp retired as a pastor in Philadelphia in 1938 after his son graduated from Olney High School.  The Kulp family moved to Fifth Street in Perkasie, and Rev. Kulp volunteered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran until he called back to service at St. Paul’s Lutheran in Applebachsville.

In March 1942, Frank Rupley Kulp enlisted in the Army. After his training was completed at Fort Benning, Kulp was commissioned as a First Lieutenant in a Special Services unit in Europe. Lt. Kulp also was one of a group of soldiers who would send letters to the Perkasie News-Herald. Frank would write about how much he enjoyed receiving copies of the News-Herald and how much he appreciated the volunteers back in Perkasie.

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The Service Men’s Edition of the News-Herald. Several editions are on Newspapers.com, thanks to the Perkasie Historical Society.

At the time in April 1944, Lt. Kulp was writing from the beachhead at Anzio in Italy.  The following year, Kulp received the Purple Heart while fighting in Germany. Kulp was also an officer in the reserves and returned to duty during the Korean conflict, again serving in Germany.

While Kulp was serving as president of the Perkasie Jaycees in 1953, News-Herald editor John Sprenkel asked him to consider a position as Perkasie’s borough secretary. Kulp had attended the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania,  and he seemed very qualified. That started his 25-year career at Perkasie Borough hall.

Two years later, Kulp married Ada Snyder from Macungie and they soon moved into a house on Market Street previously owned by Henry Shaddinger, who had operated the Blooming Glen general store.

Kulp became recognized as one of the best municipal leaders in the state. He incorporated modern techniques in his work, particularly in managing the Borough’s finances.  Kulp turned around Menlo Park, which the Borough had acquired from a private owner, to make it a profitable, safe facility. In March 1965, Perkasie Borough Council named Kulp as its first Borough Manager. “Kulp has a wide reputation among Pennsylvania officials as a brilliant administrator,” said the News-Herald at the time.

Kulp died from an apparent heart attack in December 1978, according to news reports. Sellersville Borough Manager Richard Coll said Kulp “was more respected than anyone in a local government position in the state of Pennsylvania.”  Dr. Charles Apple, a much-respected local official himself, said Kulp “was actually the Borough of Perkasie.”

The following year, Perkasie renamed its public recreation area after Kulp, and for several decades, the Pennridge Chamber of Commerce presented the Frank R. Kulp Award as the highest honor a local resident could receive for community service.

Today, Kulp’s legacy is more than a park. It is an entire Borough that Frank R. Kulp guided through a difficult era when other towns struggled to deal with changes during the Baby Boom era.

The News-Herald’s tribute on December 6, 1978 explained Kulp’s importance. “Perkasians could rest easier knowing their Borough was in good hands and the job would get done without the dissension and turmoil other communities even half our size experience,” said News-Herald editor Charles W. Baum.

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