- About Us
Richard James CummingsMay 26, 1927 ~ November 1, 2017 (age 90)
A true Renaissance man, Professor Richard James Cummings, left this mortal world Wednesday morning, November 1, 2017. He died peacefully at home at 11:40 a.m. of causes incident to age, with his wife and compassionate helpers at his side. Dick was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on May 26, 1927, to James Moroni Cummings and Rhea May Campbell Cummings, and shared a fine family life with his parents and two younger brothers, Robert Campbell Cummings and Bruce Willard Cummings. His early years were lived in Salt Lake City and Glendale, California, where his father died as a result of a tragic fall. The family returned to Salt Lake City where his wonderful mother raised three outstanding sons with the help of a loving grandmother and aunts and uncles.
He began his studies at the University of Utah at age 16, and served his country during the last year of WWII at the age of 17 as a hospital corpsman. After his return from the service he finished his studies at the University of Utah earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He completed his PhD at Stanford University in French and humanities.
Dick was a professor at the University of Utah teaching languages and literature, and in addition, for 25 years devoted extraordinary energy to building the University of Utah Honors Program into a mind-opening humanistic education with a sophisticated math and science component. He was a valued and beloved friend to his colleagues at home and around the United States, helping to create Honors Programs at universities and colleges coast to coast. He also served for two years in Hawaii and Japan as a language consultant to the U.S. Army.
Dick was a citizen of the world. He filled an LDS mission in Belgium and France where he began his acquisition of foreign languages, which, thanks in part to the GI Bill, included French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. After his marriage in 1954 to Donna Rae Gordon, he was given a Fullbright Scholarship to Germany and added German to his languages, all of which he used so well that he was taken as a native speaker as he visited foreign countries setting up summer foreign language programs for honors students. He retired from the “U” in 1994 as Professor Emeritus.
He had two remarkable, talented children, Catherine Ruth, and James Gordon. Sadly, James died prematurely in 1992. Catherine has remained a faithful and loving daughter. Dick was divorced in 1978, and married Julie Christensen Cummings on June 20, 1981, and they had some of the best years of their lives together. They loved, learned, laughed and traveled for 40 exciting years. Dick and Julie also had wonderful friendships and loved and were loved in both of their families.
He is survived by his wife Julie, his daughter Catherine, brother Bob (JoAnn), sister-in-law, Angela Cummings Perkins (Waldo Perkins), brothers-in-law, Edwin R. Christensen (Chandra) and Alan Dane Christensen (Sherri), and many loving nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Bruce.
A viewing will be held at Holbrook Mortuary, 3251 South 2300 East, Salt Lake City, Utah, on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. The funeral will be held at the same location on Thursday, November 9, 2017, at 1:30 p.m., with a viewing beforehand beginning at 12:00 noon. Burial will be in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Online messages to the family can be made at www.HolbrookMortuary.com.