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Obituaries » William Jerry Cushman

Former Navy officer, corrections officer and lawyer William Jerry “Bill” Cushman, 84, of Marshall, died Saturday, July 20, 2013.

Born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., Mr. Cushman was the only child of Catherine O’Connor Cushman and William Cushman.

He attended Aquinas Institute of Rochester before earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Notre Dame. When a Navy lieutenant, he met and married his wife of 21 years, Lt. Virginia Lee Drew (1926-2001), a Navy nurse. They had seven children: former Marine Corps Maj. Daniel Ignatius Loyola Cushman, Jerry Francis Xavier Cushman, CAPT, MC, USN (ret), Catherine Mary Cushman-Hallenbeck, Dennis Robert Bellarmine Cushman (1960-92), Dr. Rosemary Cushman-Hubert, M.D., Mary Virginia Massello, and Professor Mary Ellen Cushman, Ph.D. Mr. Cushman is also survived by eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

In his mid-50s, Mr. Cushman earned an MBA from the University of Rochester and a Juris Doctorate from Howard University.

Over the last 15 years, he served as one of the organizers of his local Retired Old Men Eating Out (ROMEOs) group and savored their stimulating conversations and company. A member of MENSA, Mr. Cushman read voracious in the areas of economics, theology, history and science.

“Hard to find any others who could discuss and be knowledgeable of the subjects he knew,” says fellow ROMEO, bibliophile and retired Assistant Vice President of Geico Stephen Kalinsky. “His favorite reading was from the Summa Theological by Thomas Aquinas,” the sixth volume of which Mr. Cushman had recently asked Mr. Kalinsky to procure for him in Latin.

“I was always impressed by Bill’s extensive knowledge on such a wide range of subjects,” finds fellow ROMEO and retired Naval officer Mr. Robert Towie. Mr. Cushman tutored teens in math and chemistry and substitute taught in and around Fauquier County.

He appreciated fine wines, a good steak and cigars. When in Rochester, he enjoyed the garbage plate at Nick Tahou’s and a Zweigle’s white hot and beer along Lake Ontario. In Corning, he knew the entire menu at Sorge’s Italian restaurant, took his daughters to Stuart and Son’s Dairy for ice cream after their softball games, and loved the Italian sausage hoagies at the Mount Saviour Monastery fall festival.

When sailing the Chesapeake Bay with fellow ROMEO and World War II veteran John Fry, “the lure of the Shady Side restaurant with tasty baby back ribs kept [Bill] going for about 3 seasons.” Mr. Cushman had a passion for pancakes, ice cream and his daughter Katie’s molasses cookies.

When he wasn’t eating, he was running. In his late 60s, Mr. Cushman completed his first Marine Corps Marathon and did so annually for nearly a decade. To train, he ran four to seven miles a day until his knees organized a sit in to protest.

Described by his friends as “a true gentleman,” and a “thoughtful, caring person, who gave of himself freely,” Mr. Cushman was understood to have “always had a kind word.”

Adds fellow ROMEO, Mr. Robert Friedline, “Bill was a founding father, and the heart and soul, of the Fauquier ROMEOS, who will sorely miss his camaraderie and intellectual leadership.”

A man of fiercely guarded principles, he laughed in the face of irony, sneered at social injustice, mocked hypocrisy and loathed racism. Devoutly Catholic, Mr. Cushman attended church nearly every day until Parkinson’s disease made this practice difficult and a stroke on June 6, 2013, rendered it impossible.

He held in high regard the congregation at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Warrenton, where a memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 2, with a reception to follow.

Memorial contributions may be made to McQuaid Jesuit Tuition Gifts Fund, 1800 South Clinton Ave., Rochester, N.Y., 14618.
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