Obituaries

Maria Cecilia Cunningham of Benson

MARIA CECILIA CUNNINGHAM

BENSON — Maria Cecilia Cunningham died Feb. 2, 2021. She was born in Rochester, N.Y., to Michael McEnery Cunningham and Joan Carey Cunningham.
Maria was the first-born of nine children. Her life was filled with challenges and change. In the words of her sister-in-law, Linda Cunningham, “She was the most friendly and outgoing person I’ve ever met.” That sentiment is a recurring theme among those who have known her. Maria was always genuinely interested in the lives of those around her wherever she might be. Her memory of people and places was truly extraordinary.
Raised on a dairy farm in Benson, Vt., Maria spent her young years working on the farm, which she dearly loved. A passion for agricultural endeavors, be it gardening, planting potatoes, or enjoying watching the busy work of bees, stayed with her throughout her life.
At the age of thirteen she went off to boarding school in Albany, N.Y., at Kenwood, Academy of the Sacred Heart. After graduating she pursued a study of Zoology at the University of Vermont. She completed her course of studies there, with honors, in 1967.
During her teenage years Maria and her younger sister, Tina, spent a few months in Greece and Israel, where they dug ditches as part of a humanitarian outreach program. The experience left lasting memories and cultivated Maria’s love for getting to know people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.
After graduating from college Maria travelled to Mexico, where she was part of a team researching preeclampsia. Her life there quickly filled with new friends and experiences. The next adventure for Maria was doing genetic research with fruit flies at Middlebury College. Her love of science was always manifest in the life choices she made. For a time she worked as a dental assistant with Dr. Alvin Sayers of Fair Haven. Again she used the opportunity to learn all that she could.
Her marriage to a beekeeper plunged her into a whole new field of work and study. She gave 100% to every aspect of the beekeeping world, working in the yards, extracting, marketing, coming up with new ideas to provide an excellent raw product. During those years her son, Arthur, was born. He has inherited a legacy of loving the world of bees.
Maria was a tireless, energetic worker. She threw herself headlong into all she did, from being a mother, helping establish Vermont Yoghurt Company (the first company to develop maple flavored yoghurt!) to packaging seeds at Vermont Bean and Seed. One of her greatest joys was fishing, which she found time for during whatever phase of her history she was experiencing.
She is predeceased by her parents, her brother John and her sister Tina. Maria is survived by her son, Arthur Genier of Hawaii; six of her siblings (Stephen, Susan, Barbara, Annie, David and Michael); sisters- and brothers-in-law; and upward of fifty nieces and nephews spanning, now, three generations.
Maria will be laid to rest in a family cemetery at Christ Sun of Justice Church in Benson, Vt. A memorial service will be planned at some future date.◊

Share this story:

More News
Obituaries

Kenneth Merton Atwood, 93, of Brandon

KENNETH MERTON ATWOOD BRANDON — Kenneth Merton Atwood, age 93, passed away Tuesday, July 9 … (read more)

Obituaries

Wallace Clapper, 63, of St. George

WALLACE CLAPPER ST. GEORGE — Wallace Clapper of St. George passed away unexpectedly at his … (read more)

Obituaries

Cheryl Hoffnagle Kennedy celebration of life

CHERYL HOFFNAGLE KENNEDY BRISTOL — Cheryl Hoffnagle Kennedy, 79, passed away peacefully No … (read more)

Share this story: