Cover photo for Richard E. Cunningham's Obituary
Richard E. Cunningham Profile Photo
1928 Richard 2015

Richard E. Cunningham

November 7, 1928 — March 1, 2015

Dr. Richard E. Cunningham of Jaffrey Center, NH, died at home on March 1 surrounded by his wife and five children. Born in Utica, NY, November 7,1928, Richard was the son of Earle J. and Ruth M. (Hanrahan) Cunningham. He attended Vincentian High School in Albany, NY, and received an A.B. in Classics from the University of Notre Dame in 1950. After college, he taught Latin in high schools in Indiana and Connecticut, and subsequently taught English in schools in East Pakistan (Bangladesh). From 1954 to 1956 he served as a Special Agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps, U.S. Army. While earning an M.A. at Notre Dame in 1958, he was a teaching assistant in the English Department. After teaching and studying at the University of Illinois (Champaign) for six years, he was awarded a Ph.D in English Literature. Three years were spent as an assistant professor at Marquette University, in Milwaukee, WI, and in 1967 he became an associate professor of English at Keene State College where he taught until 1998. As the first exchange professor from Keene State, he taught at Bishop Lonsdale College, Derby, England, in 1974.

Among Dr. Cunningham’s activities while at Keene State were chairman of New England Selection Committee of the Danforth Foundation Associates Program; chairman of the English department; Dean of Arts and Humanities; Interim Academic Vice-President; and Interim President (1986-87 and 1993-94). The KSC Alumni Association named him Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 1984. In 1987 he was the first recipient of the University System of NH’s Chancellor’s Award for Exceptional Service to Higher Education. Spending two sabbaticals in England, he was elected as a Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College at Cambridge University in 1976 and at Manchester College at the University of Oxford in 1995. He was Vice-Chairman of the NH Humanities Council, past president of the Thorndike Club in Jaffrey, and of the Jaffrey Center Village Improvement Society.

His interests included classical music, sailing, tennis, jogging and American antique furniture.

His survivors are his dear and loving wife of 59 years, Jane Marie (Usher), his son, Kevin
and his wife, Meredith Birdsall of Philadelphia, PA and Dover, MA; daughter Karen Van Adzin and her husband, Alexis, of Winchester, MA; daughter, Colleen Johns, and her husband Chip, of Mattapoisett, MA; daughter, Jane Cunningham of Greensboro, NC; and son, Gregory and his wife, Anne, of Cumberland, ME; 15 cherished grandchildren and a dear sister, Dr. Suzanne Dickie and husband, George of Bradenton, FL.

Dr. Cunningham was predeceased by his son, Richard Alan, his brother, Bruce Cunningham and his sister, Patricia Pritchard.

A service will be held on April 18 at 1 pm at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 51 Concord St., Peterborough, NH, followed by a reception in Reynolds Hall opposite the church.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Dr. Cunningham’s memory to Northfield Mount Hermon School/Student Financial Aid at: Northfield Mount Hermon, Office of Advancement, One Lamplighter Way, Mount Hermon, MA 01354 or at

To view an online memorial, send a condolence to the family or for more information please visit our website,

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Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Starts at 1:00pm (Eastern time)

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