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Francis Cunningham

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Francis Cunningham Obituary
Francis Cunningham

Feb. 10, 1922 - March 3, 2013

Frank Cunningham lived his life with an abiding love for his family, a steadfast commitment to education and a deep-rooted passion for rowing. He was born in Lowell, MA, to Francis and Yvonne Cunningham and grew up with a love for the water and boats. His first experience in a racing shell came while he was attending Noble and Greenough, a preparatory school in Dedham, MA. Later, at Harvard University he was the stroke of the undefeated freshman lightweight and JV lightweight crews. His skill and spirit earned him a seat as the stroke of the varsity eight, despite being the shortest oarsman in the boat. In 1947, in Seattle, that eight won the National Championship and set a 2000-meter world record. He was named to the Seattle PI's All-American crew. He returned to Seattle where he met and married his wife, Lora Jane. After settling in Edmonds, where they raised their children-Laurie, Christopher and Ellyn-Frank earned a teaching certificate at the U of W. He taught at Edmonds High School and Lakeside School. He retired after 30 years but continued, with the support of his wife, to devote much of his time to coaching, repairing racing shells and equipment and to fostering the growth of the rowing community in Seattle. In 1975 he and his 1947 crew were inducted into the US Rowing Hall of Fame and in 2010 he was awarded US Rowing's Lifetime Achievement medal. As a teacher and as a coach he sought not merely to impart knowledge but to engage minds and hearts. He conducted his life with integrity, purpose, enthusiasm and wit. He kept his sense of humor through his final hours and died peacefully surrounded by his family. His cherished wife Jane and his twin sister June preceded him in death. Frank is survived by his beloved children, grandchildren Sara, Zack, Ian, Nate and Alison; nieces Linda and Eve; nephews George and Eddie; and son-in-law Craig. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lake Washington Rowing Club. A service celebrating Frank's life will be held at the Lakeside School (14050 1st NE, Seattle) on April 13 at 11:30 am.
Published in The Seattle Times on Mar. 31, 2013
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