Avon: Richard G. Cullinan, 56 years, of Richmond Lane, Avon, NY died Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester after a lengthy illness. He was born in Rochester, NY March 4, 1955, the son of George and Martha Collins Cullinan. Rick was a graduate of St. Agnes School, Avon Central School Class of 1974, and he also attended RIT. He was a member of the Hol-Field Sportmens Club, and part of the Journeys of Inspiration, climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro in 2009. An avid outdoorsman, he enjoyed hunting, trapping and many other outdoor sports. Rick was employed at SPX in Rochester. He was predeceased by his mother, Martha on August 26, 2010.
He is survived by his wife, Theresa Hartman Cullinan; children, Cody R. Cullinan of Greece, NY and Courtney R. Cullinan of Avon.
grandchildren, Madison C. Ireland and Nicholas R. Porcelli. Father, George Cullinan of Avon; sister, Mary Joan Cullinan of Rochester; brother, Peter Cullinan (Steve Young) of San Francisco, California. Father-in-law, John W. Hartman of Victor. Several aunts, uncles, cousins, and many dear and close friends.
Friends may call Friday from 4-8 PM at Kevin W. Dougherty Funeral Home, Inc. Routes 15 & 20A, 21 Big Tree St. Livonia. His Funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday, March 12, at 10 AM in St. Agnes Church, 108 Prospect St. Avon. Private Burial, St. Agnes Cemetery, Avon. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or Wilmot Cancer Center, 300 East River Rd. Box 278996, Rochester, NY 14627. To send condolences or share a memory, please visit: www.doughertyfuneralhomes.com
“God, I offer myself to
Thee-to build with me and
to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage
of self, that I may better
do Thy will.Take away my
difficulties, that victory
over them may bear witness
to those I would help
of Thy Power, Thy Love,
And Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always!”
“Living a Dream”
Born on March 4, 1955 to George and Martha Cullinan, the life of the man we know as Richard (Rick) Cullinan began. Though born in the City of Rochester his home has always been Avon. He grew up nurtured by ample amounts of love, support, and his mother’s good cooking. This nurturing environment was not limited to his family home. The network of Cousins, Aunts, and Uncles all contributed to the man he would become.
Growing up there are numerous stories of his experiences with the family, schoolmates, summer vacations in Rockport, Mass, the combustible flower bin at Grandma Cullinan’s, and many more.
Upon graduation from Avon High School in 1975 Rick came to work at Mixing Equipment on Rochester Street in Avon. He would begin a lengthy career of 35 years as a machinist manufacturing engineer and lead man. In 1994 the company moved to Mt. Read Blvd in Rochester consolidating with the main plant. A valued employee Rick contributed with his skill, knowledge, and solid work ethic.
Though his work life was a big part of who he was an even larger portion came from his love of the outdoors. Rick’s teenage years saw him spending many hours in the swimming pool at Perkins Swim Club and at the Avon High School on the swim team. Rick’s interest in hunting began when Uncle Dwayne showed the boys the art of wild life management. From those moments blossomed Rick’s love for nature and a respect of God’s creations.
He spent the fall deer hunting, trapping, and his summers were canoeing and later biking or hiking. In the 1990’s he found a new passion in trap shooting. He seemed to be a natural and was champion in various leagues. Throughout the activities and the pleasures he derived from them his involvement with friends was #1.
Family and friends took precedent in his life. He was a devoted son, brother, father, grandfather, and husband. He was blessed with two children; Cody (27 years) and Courtney (25 years) and two grandchildren; Madison (3years) and Nicholas (5 months.) We were married in 1997 and shared a beautiful life together. His family especially the grandchildren brought him joy. Unfortunately as life goes hardships and difficulties are intertwined with the happiness. He met challenges as they came and fought for victory each time. Rick’s character and his faith became stronger and deeper with each experience. Though he did not frequent traditional worship services regularly he made a connection each day with God. Through prayer and being in nature Rick walked with his God every day.
A very pivotal point in his life came when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2006. On July 10 he underwent a 10 hour surgery and would remain in the hospital for seventeen days. At this time I would like to thank Dr. Jeffery Peter’s (Rick’s surgeon) and the Strong Memorial Hospital medical staff for their kindness and care of my husband.
The seventeen day hospital stay was longer than expected as a result of his suffering an anaphylactic seizure. Rick has reflected on that moment many times. He remembers the room fading to black leaving only a pin point of light. He could hear the voices of those around him urging him to breathe. At the same time he had the sensation of floating and a feeling of peace. A bright light was in the distance. Yet he still heard my voice beckoning him back. What seemed like an eternity this lasted and then suddenly the lights switched on. The room filled with medical staff came to life before his eyes.
From that moment on Rick’s life would change. He often reflected and meditated on what really mattered to him. This experience deepened his faith as well. For the next four months he would have 96 hours of chemo per 30 days. It appeared to eliminate the cancer. He went to regular checkups receiving good news each time. Determined while in the hospital as well as upon release Rick persistently walked many hours for his recovery. He walked many miles around Avon with our three Jack Russell’s. His determination brought him strength and wellness enough to resume his normal life. Rick returned to work in February 2007.
Rick always amazed the staff in the hospital with his upbeat personality and the desire to fight back to full recovery. On several occasions Dr. Peters asked him to speak with other patients anticipating the surgery. He was featured in their newsletter and on their website.
Life was good and Rick looked to the future. Trapshooting became a vital part of his life again. He was a member of the Hol-Field Sportsman’s Club, shot on three leagues and competed once at an event in West Hogan, PA. He made many wonderful friends through his shooting experiences.
As I had mentioned before walking and hiking became an integral part of his day. Those footsteps would take him on his greatest adventure yet. In 2008 Rick’s family gathered to celebrate his birthday at a local restaurant. The server struck up a conversation with the family and by the end of the night we had been invited to the Journeys of Inspiration Cancer Climb Banquet.
We went with the intent to make a donation – Journey’s of Inspiration is a collaboration of Pack, Paddle, and Ski in Lima and the American Cancer Society. Comprised of survivors and caregivers they had climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa to raise money for cancer research and programs.
Overwhelmed by the cause and the people, Rick chose to go on the 2009 Climb. As I gave my information for a contact and then began to write the down payment it suddenly occurred to me I was also signed up to go as well. My husband expressed a desire to share the experience with me. My fear of heights and rare experience of travel petrified me. I agreed with the condition I could back out at any time. We took our embroidered climbing shirts home and hung them on the hook in our room. For two weeks we wondered if we did the right thing.
Once we began training with the 2008 climbers we knew it was the right thing to do absolutely. So on February 14, 2009 we took to the blue skies from Rochester’s Airport, landing about 20 hours later in Tanzanian Airport. Warm and sultry was the night and the 18 climbers were energized with anticipation. Never would we have thought we would be in Africa and climbing a mountain 19, 345 feet high.
The whole trip was amazing, almost dream like. There were moments we saw jungles, other showed us vanishing tree lines and vegetation became non-existent. We walked elevations above the clouds. The temperature went from 90F to -8 F at the top. Rick and I could not believe we made it. We made summit as the sun split the dark black night with a neon red light revealing the curvature of the earth. The sun continued to rise bringing light to the earth and the most spectacular view before our eyes.
Upon our return home, Rick and I spoke and shared our experiences with various groups. After seeing the simple, uncomplicated life of the Tanzanian people Rick sought to simplify his life as well. God became more prevalent than ever to him.
Sadly Rick’s health changed and he began to feel not as well. This continued to progress until it was obvious more had to be done. In March of 2010 we began persistent testing to determine the cause of his GI difficulties and sudden large weight loss. In May of the year he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. The cells had survived to strike again. This time it was not so optimistic of a prognosis.
The Wilmot Cancer Center treated Rick with radiation and bi-weekly chemo treatments. Through it all Rick was upbeat and determined to fight the fight. The staff once again were amazed at the endurance that he had. Most people would have given in long before. He underwent treatments from June 2010 until the third week of February 2011.
At that time he was taken to the hospital with pneumonia. Later we found out he also suffered from the flu and pneumonitis. After testing it was determined the cancer was spreading. His condition was deteriorating.
Up until that time Rick had been able to care for others, walk the dogs, and do some of his normal activities. He even participated in a trap shooting league.
On March 8, 2011 Rick succumbed to the cancer. Rick was a gift in my life that I will always treasure. I wish to thank all that loved and befriended him in his lifetime.
My gratitude extends to my family and the people in the community and friends who have supported us during these last difficult months.
Thank you and may God Bless each of you as he has Rick and I.
Theresa (Terry) Cullinan