Jean Louise Himrod Stull Cunningham of 661 Benson Road, Waterford, died July 30, 2011. Born January 30, 1929 to Alfred E. Himrod and Georgia Briggs Himrod, she was a lifelong resident of Waterford. A 1946 graduate of Waterford Joint High School, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education from Edinboro State Teachers College in 1949 and did graduate work at Penn State University and Palomar and Mira Costa Colleges in California. Her teaching career included brief stints in Bessemer and Union City, Pennsylvania, after which she taught at Fort LeBoeuf High School in Waterford, retiring in 1985 after 31 years. Besides formal art education in all media, she instilled in her students an appreciation for the natural world. Being a strong advocate of environmental stewardship and against cruelty to animals of any kind, she strove to draw these qualities from her students. Throughout her tenure she also mentored student teachers from Edinboro and Mercyhurst Colleges. In the 1960s she began her career as a professional artist, rendering mainly in watercolors, her impressions of the natural world. She gained inspiration not only from local sites but from many travels she took throughout the United States, including Alaska and the Pribilof Islands. She visited Mexico, Belize, Kenya, and most of the provinces of Canada. Her work has been exhibited in at least nine cities in the United States. Perhaps for more than her educational and artistic accomplishments, she would like to be remembered as being a spokesperson and exemplar for environmental stewardship. With her late husband, James G. Stull, she began in 1960, banding birds on Presque Isle for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This continued for nearly 40 years. In that time, while much valuable data was accumulated, of equal if not greater importance was the number of people whose lives were enriched by experiencing a bird in hand or by having their questions about nature answered merely by having been passersby at the banding station. Recognizing a thirst for knowledge of the environment, Jean contributed a widely read nature column in the Erie newspaper during the 1950s. With Presque Isle as a focal point and with the expressed desire for people of similar interests to have a means to assemble and share their knowledge, Jean and Jim in 1956 founded the Presque Isle Nature Club that later became the Presque Isle Audubon Society, a chapter of the National Audubon Society. It is still a vital environmental organization that has grown to upwards of 700 members in northwestern Pennsylvania. In recognition of their important work in drawing attention to and working to preserve the natural history of Presque Isle, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1993 honored Jean and Jim by naming the nature exhibition building the Stull Interpretive Center. With her growing reputation on matters of the environment Jean was appointed to or served on many committees, among them the Presque Isle Advisory Committee, The Pennsylvania Wild Resource Conservation Fund Advisory Committee, Presque Isle Resource Management Plan Task Force, and the Purple Martin Conservation Association Board of Trustees. She has accrued awards from numerous and diverse organizations that have recognized her excellence in the fields of art, education, and the environment, the most recent being the 2010 John C. Oliver Environmental Award. She is survived by her husband, Harry N. (Toby) Cunningham of Waterford; a son, James A. "Sam" Stull and his wife, Barbara Mitchell, of McKean; a son, David W. Stull and wife, Charlene, of Waterford; a step-daughter, Elisa Burden and husband, Dan, and a stepson, John Cunningham and wife, Christina, all of Melbourne, Fla.; three granddaughters, Miriam Stull, Isabel Burden, and Lindsay Cunningham; a sister, Martha Smith and husband, Ralph, of Culpepper, Va.; nieces, Sheryl McDowell and Sloan Trumbo; and all those whose lives she has touched through her kindness and charity. There will be no public viewing or funeral service. Family members will greet visitors at the Van Matre Funeral Home, 105 Walnut Street, Waterford on Tuesday from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. In lieu of flowers, friends are requested to send a contribution to a charity of one's choice, particularly those dealing with animals and the environment. Condolences may be shared at www.vanmatrefuneralhome.com
Published by Erie Times-News on Aug. 1, 2011.