Dennis Cummings, 71

Dennis Cummings

Dennis Cummings

SOUTH PORTLAND — Dennis Cummings, 71, passed away Friday, Aug. 23, 2013, after a brief and unexpected illness.

Born April 23, 1942, to Francis “Honey” and Elizabeth Rose (Marsico) Cummings of New York City, Dennis was raised Catholic in Greenwich Village and attended New York schools, graduating from St. Leonard’s High School in Brooklyn and taking courses at City College of New York.

Dennis was a gregarious, extroverted and passionate man who, when younger, enjoyed traveling, drawing and doing art projects. Unfailingly proud of his blue-collar background, Dennis eventually followed in the footsteps of his father and brother by working in the trucking business. He was employed at several trucking companies in the New York area as a dock man.

Dennis liked to call himself a simple man, who wanted a simple life, and often said when he retired he wanted “to sit on a log and watch nature,” but in fact his interests and opinions revealed his complexity. He loved movies and was a fan of cowboy and gangster films, never tiring of re-watching Clint Eastwood or John Wayne films or Robert Redford’s Jeremiah Johnson. He loved to watch boxing, but had no interest in following sports teams. He tried never to miss his favorite television shows — the CBS Sunday Morning show, 60 Minutes and he loved PBS — but was disgusted by today’s trashy sit-coms. His musical taste ran to opera and classical music, with Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma and Andrea Bocelli’s Con te partiro bringing him to tears. He was adamant and outspoken about his version of “the right way to do things,” particularly in terms of good manners and consideration for others. He was known on occasion to inform a professional man that he needed to shine his shoes and could be loud and vocal when he observed people being inconsiderate of others, yet he was “a softie” who refused to kill even a mosquito or a fly and had been a strict vegetarian for 25 years.

Dennis was a loyal and devoted family man whose wife and daughters were his life, and he always put their needs before his own, often working two to three jobs to make sure they had what they needed. He always made himself available to them for rides and errands or babysitting his grandsons, and freely gave his money to his family without thought of his own wants or needs. In his brother Frank’s words, Dennis was “a New York guy who loved New York and moved to Maine to take care of his family.”

Dennis married Donna Gene Tyler of Cape Elizabeth, in 1974. They met in New York in 1969 and in 1971 traveled west together, a special time “on the road” when Dennis made many friends who loved him and embarked on a new career as a cook in restaurants in Phoenix and San Francisco. Dennis loved our country and meeting new people, especially the humble and authentic Americans struggling toward the American dream. He was solidly working class, an unwavering Union member and supporter. Socially and morally a conservative, Dennis was an Independent with a tender and sometimes surprising sprinkle of liberalism. He loved nothing better than talking and sharing stories with others.

After their marriage, Dennis and Donna settled in South Portland, where Dennis worked for Burnham and Morrill and later, Megquier and Jones. In 1978, the family moved to Hoboken, N.J., where Dennis again returned to the familiar work of unloading trucks and doing moving jobs. Following a final return to Maine in 1988, Dennis was employed for over 18 years with the city of Portland Public Works and held a second job with Ryder Integrated for 16 years.

Dennis was predeceased by his parents and in 1974 by his infant son, Tyler Patrick Cummings. Less than two months before his own death, Dennis was heartbreakingly pre-deceased by his daughter, Erin Libby Cummings.

He is survived by his daughter Caitlin Brighid Cummings Thompson of Bridgton; four grandchildren; his brother, Frank Cummings of Edison, N.J.; his sisters, June Cummings LoRusso of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Theresa Cummings of Hoboken, N.J.; seven loving nieces and nephews, as well as several cousins.

Visiting hours will be from 5 to 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6 at Hobbs Funeral Home, 230 Cottage Road, South Portland. A service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 7 at the funeral home. Condolences can be expressed at

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.

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