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Jerry Cummins


1937 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Jerry Cummins Obituary
Jerry J. Cummins, 78, of La Grange Park, Illinois, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Jan. 13, 2016. He is survived by his loving wife Susan, 75, son Joel Cummins, 41, and daughter-in-law Dasha Davis, 34. Jerry battled Alzheimer's disease for four years, but he never let the disease take his kind and happy demeanor. He was a nationally known mathematics educator and textbook author, and an avid fan of the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and everything Notre Dame. He loved music, attending more than 200 concerts of his son's popular rock band Umphrey's McGee. Jerry will be remembered as one of the most fun-loving, caring people many of us have ever known, personally and professionally. Everyone who knew Jerry has a story about how he stepped up to make something happen - to help his students succeed, to help young athletes on the many teams he coached, and sometimes just to see a football game. He loved to show up at major sporting events without a ticket, and he usually got in - often for free, including a Super Bowl. As a teacher, he combined this spontaneity with his devotion to helping young people learn. For instance, in 1990 the chaperone of a high-school trip to Germany became ill, jeopardizing the trip. Though they didn't know German, he and Susan volunteered to go. They happened to be in Berlin when Roger Waters performed "The Wall," so they took the students, including their son, to see this once-in-a-generation event. Jerry was born Dec. 21, 1937, in Metropolis, Illinois, to Robert Cummins and Mabel Cummins. He was the youngest of five siblings, John, David, Jean Byrd and Phyllis Morgan, who all preceded him in passing. Jerry grew up across the street from Susan Easterday, who became his high-school sweetheart, his college classmate, and for 53 years his loving spouse. After graduating from Metropolis High School in 1956, he attended Southern Illinois University and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics education. After marrying Susan in 1962, they earned their master's degrees in education and administration from the University of Oregon. Jerry and Susan traveled the world together for work and pleasure, including China, Italy and Egypt. Jerry sometimes worked in his love of golf on those trips, such as when he and his son played the Old Course at St. Andrews. Jerry ended his 32-year teaching career in the Chicagoland area at Lyons Township High School in 1994, though he continued to train teachers around the country through 2012. Along the way, he became a leading author of mathematics textbooks, co-authoring 18. In the 1990s, Mr. Cummins emerged as a national leader in using new technologies to engage math students. He trained thousands of teachers and spoke at mathematics conferences around the country. Jerry held leadership positions in the Chicago Metropolitan Math Club, the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics (ICTM) and the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics, for which he helped create its highly successful summer math leadership academies. He received numerous awards from ICTM, including the Distinguished Life Achievement Award and the Lee Yunker Mathematics Leadership Award. While Jerry's educational achievements were many, he was also a leader outside of mathematics. He coached many high school & youth sports teams, including golf, baseball & basketball. He and Susan taught Fortnightly dance classes, led Young Life & taught Sunday school at Western Springs Baptist Church for years. They later joined the First Congregational Church of Western Springs. A memorial service and reception will be held at First Congregational Church, 1106 Chestnut St., at 2 p.m. Jan. 25. Donations made in Jerry's honor to Plymouth Place will go to the Alzheimer's care unit, Greg's Place, where he lived. plymouthplace.org/donate Donations to the Dr. Timothy Kanold Scholarship, named for Jerry's colleague and dear friend, will help a graduating senior pursue a career in mathematics. scholarship info: http://bit.ly/timothykanold donate: http://bit.ly/kanold
Published in a Chicago Tribune Media Group Publication on Jan. 19, 2016
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