John R. Cumming, Ph.DJohn Ross Cumming, 88, longtime UWS professor passed away peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.
John Ross Cumming, 88, longtime UWS professor passed away peacefully on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, at Solvay Hospice House in Duluth with his loving family by his side.
John was born in Minneapolis, Minn., on July 17, 1923, to Kenneth and Elizabeth Cumming.
He was preceded in death by his brother, Dr. Robert Cumming.
John is survived by his wife of 62 years, Jeanne, whom he married in 1949 in Wadena, Minn., and by his five children, Nancy (Jim) Amundson of Louisville, Ky., Betty Cumming (Harry Reinkall, deceased) of Superior, Laura Star (Paul Schneider) of Carlton, Minn., Mary Courage (David Anderson) of Duluth and Robert Cumming of Santa Barbara, Calif.; his six grandchildren, Theresa, Tom, Robert, Mary, Kelly and Jon Ray; and his two great-grandchildren, Andrew and Elise; five brothers-in-law; six sisters-in-law; and numerous nieces and nephews.
John was inducted into the Army in 1943 and served in World War II, taking part in the Normandy invasion in June 1944 with the 177th Ordnance. He was very proud of his service to his country and loved to relate his experiences. Dr. Cumming was recognized in a Wisconsin Public Television documentary about World War II.
John had a long and esteemed career in education, graduating from high school in Fort Dodge, Iowa, in 1941, then earning a bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota in 1949, master’s degree in 1952 and doctorate in 1954, both from the University of Washington in Seattle. He began his career shortly after marrying Jeanne in 1949, when they moved to Alaska and worked for the Alaskan Native Service in the Eskimo village of Kwigillingok from 1949 to 1951, assuming the duties of Postmaster as well. Their first child, Nancy, was born in Bethel, Alaska. They also lived in the Alaskan cities of Metlakatla and Wrangell. Dr. Cumming collected many fine Eskimo artifacts and took many slides of their time in Alaska. He was often asked to do presentations at schools and for various business organizations he was affiliated with over the years.
John and Jeanne and their children spent many years in Dillon, Mont., where they enjoyed his favorite pastimes of fly-fishing, camping and picnicking in the mountains. In Dillon, Dr. Cumming was the head of the Department of Education at Western Montana College from 1955 to 1966, when the family moved to Superior. He served as the director of the McCaskill Laboratory School, director of the Audio Visual Center and a professor of anthropology and teacher education at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, retiring from the university as professor emeritus in 1992. He received a Fulbright Award to Iran from 1976 to 1977 and also accepted a number of other foreign assignments in Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines and Pakistan, and took his wife and several other family members on some of these adventures.
Dr. Cumming was a longtime member of Cathedral of Christ the King Catholic Church in Superior. He belonged to many civic organizations, and held various leadership positions, including president of Kiwanis in Superior and lieutenant governor of Wisconsin Kiwanis; a leadership position in the Boy Scouts of America for the northern area of Wisconsin; member of AAUP (American Association of University Professors); WEA (Wisconsin Education Association); Montana Association of Teachers; NEA (National Education Association); Anthropological Society; and UWS Alumni Association. In Montana, he served as president of the Jaycees; president of the PTA; and was also a member of the local Kiwanis Club.
He was involved in various entrepreneurial ventures, including the Children of America Day Care Center in Superior, the Professor’s Old Time Photo Studio and the Ship’s Galley concession on Barker’s Island in Superior, and managed many rental properties in Superior over the years as J & J Properties.
John especially enjoyed spending time with his family and friends at their cabin on Lake Minnesuing.
The family would like to express their deep gratitude to the staff of Solvay Hospice House for treating John with respect and kindness, and providing such a special atmosphere for his last days with his family, which the family will treasure. He was truly a special husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, and will be sorely missed.
There will be a celebration of John’s life 4-6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 26 on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus in the Multi-Cultural Center, Room 232 in the Old Main Building with parking available in lots 7, 10 and 12. A structured time of remembrance will be held at 5 p.m. where friends may share their memories of John. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 at Cathedral of Christ the King Catholic Church in Superior and continue until the 11 a.m. memorial Mass of Christian burial with the Rev. William Murphy as celebrant.
Burial will be at Calvary Cemetery in Superior.
Military honors will be accorded at the cemetery by American Legion Post No. 435 Honor Guard.
John’s grandchildren will be recognized as honorary pallbearers, Theresa Amundson, Thomas Amundson, Robert Saetham, Mary Saetham, Kelly Ryberg and Jon Ray Anderson.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made to Cathedral of Christ the King, the UWS Foundation, or a charity of the donor’s choice.
Downs-LeSage Funeral Home, 1304 Hammond Ave., Superior, is assisting the family with arrangements.
Leave an online condolence or sign the guest book at www.downs-lesage.com.