Delos Poe Culp was born on July 26, 1911 in Clanton, Alabama, the son of Daniel and Lela Popwell Culp. He attended the public schools of Chilton County and graduated from Isabella High School, Maplesville, Alabama. From 1933-34, he attended Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and earned a normal diploma. In 1937 he earned a B.S. degree from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and a M.S. in 1940 from the same institution.
Culp's teaching experience began in Chilton County in a one-room school. Over the years he advanced in the educational system of the county until he became superintendent of schools in 1942. Resigning as superintendent in 1946, he became a member of the professional staff of the Alabama State Department of Education. In 1949, Culp continued his education by earning the Ed. D. degree from Columbia University in New York City. He also was a General Education Board Fellow at Columbia and received a grant to study public education at all levels in 17 states. After serving as associate professor and professor of education at Auburn University, 1951-1954, Culp assumed the presidency of Livingston State College at Livingston, Alabama, where he remained until he became president of Alabama College (now University of Montevallo), Montevallo, Alabama, in 1963. On February 1, 1968, Culp became president of East Tennessee State University. He retired in 1977.
During his educational career Culp held many offices inclucing: director of the Alabama Education Commission for the Alabama State Legislature, 1957-59; member of a special study of public education in the Philippines, 1959-60; president of the Alabama Association of College Administrators, 1960; special consultant to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, for Appraisal and Development of Programmed Learning, 1960-61; chair of the Alabama Education Association Policies Commission, 1960-62; and chair of the National Commission on Safety Education, 1965. Culp is an authority on pupil transportation and has made national contributions in this field; he is also the co-author of An Administrator's Handbook of School Transportation (1949) and Pupil Transportation (1953).
For many years Culp was an active lay leader in the United Methodist Church and held many offices in its local, state, and national organizations. He was a member and held offices in a number of educational organizations and professional societies at both the state and national level. In Johnson City he was a director of First Peoples Bank, a national committee chair of Exploring Boy Scouts of America, and a member of the National Commission on Safety Education. Culp was married to the former Martha Edwardine Street of Gadsden, Alabama. They have three children: Martha Jean, James and John.