Claire H. (Cavanaugh) Cunningham ’57, M.Ed. ’60, 86, of Chatham and formerly of Worcester, passed away on October 13, 2022. Claire was born in Worcester to James E. Cavanaugh, district fire chief in Worcester, and Mary Ellen (Kerrins) Cavanaugh. She graduated from Worcester State University in 1957 and earned a master’s degree in education from Worcester State in 1960. She taught elementary grades in Bethesda, Md., and in the Worcester Public Schools for 24 years and religious education at Our Lady of the Angels Church. She also was an active volunteer with numerous organizations in Worcester. She leaves her husband of 62 years, Dr. Thomas H. Cunningham; four children, Patricia Easterly and her husband Timothy, Deborah Finnerty and her husband David, Theresa Cronin and her husband James; and Thomas Cunningham Jr. and his wife Kathryn; nine grandchildren, Brendan Finnerty and his wife Teresa, Colleen Finnerty and her wife Holly, Liam Finnerty, Kara Finnerty, Lauren Behlke, William Easterly, Joseph Cronin, and Thomas and Sarah Cunningham; great-granddaughter, Beatriz Finnerty; brother, Francis Cavanaugh; and sister-in-law Terry Cavanaugh Cunningham.
Douglas R. “Duke” Dawson, 63, beloved husband of Trish Dawson, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family on May 30, 2022 in Worcester. Duke was born in Hartford, Conn., to Robert and the late Margaret (Robertson) Dawson. He grew up in Ellington, Conn., attended Princeton University, and later earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience at the University of California at Irvine. He worked as program director at the EcoTarium, where he was honored as Worcester County Science Educator of the Year in 1998. Duke was a stay-at-home father when his son and daughter were young. He spent his time building intricate homemade dollhouses and forts, setting up science experiments, and organizing frequent trips to museums. He taught evening classes at Anna Maria College and the University of Hartford and later became a full-time tenured professor at Worcester State University. In his free time Duke read science fiction books, collected comics and action figures, and enjoyed sitting outside with Trish and their dog Toby doing crossword puzzles. Duke is survived by his wife, Trish, and their two children, Joey and Celia, as well as father Robert, brother Robert, sister-in-law Bernadette, nephew Robbie, and sister Margaret. Family, friends, and colleagues created The Douglas R. “Duke” Dawson Science Award in his memory.
Caitlyn Dawn Despres ’22, 24, of Worcester passed away unexpectedly on July 24. Caitlyn was a 2022 graduate of Worcester State University and achieved her goal of getting her degree in her dream field, criminal justice. She had a double minor in forensic science and education studies. Her plan was to work in 911 dispatch and eventually become an EMT. She passed suddenly a mere two months after graduation, never having fulfilled the goal of getting her dream job.
Caitlyn was a kind, yet outspoken, young woman who loved helping her community. She was overjoyed to be involved in running the COVID Clinic at Worcester State University, with over 86 hours invested in the project. She was a big supporter of her peers and never stopped cheering others on to reach their goals and personal growth as she strived for her own. She enjoyed donating to various causes close to her heart such as Thea’s Food Pantry and worked with the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, which works toward creating the best possible environment for nonprofits through their work in advocacy, building public awareness, capacity building and resource development. She will be missed by all who knew her and forgotten by none. Her time with us was not long enough, but we know that she will live on with those who loved her and continue to celebrate her beautiful spirit.
Caitlyn is survived by her parents, Richard and Lori (Pellerin) Despres, and her brother, Richard. She leaves many aunts, uncles, cousins, a grandmother, and many friends who loved her.
Lt. Col. John V. “Jack” Dunn, retired Massachusetts State Police Lieutenant Colonel, 71, passed away on May 24, 2022, at UMass Hospital, surrounded by loving family. He is reunited with his daughters Lauren Nicole and Vanessa Ann Dunn, who both predeceased him. Jack is survived by his loving wife of 38 years, Deborah N. (Brown) Dunn; son, Massachusetts State Trooper John R. Dunn and his wife Kristen, and their son—his beloved grandson—John Joseph Dunn. He is also survived by two sisters, Maryann Dunn and her husband Rick Gilbert, and Patricia Dunn; brother-in-law, Phil Desrosiers; and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by a sister, Sheila Desrosiers. Jack was born in South Boston to John V. and Anna M. (Feeney) Dunn and graduated from Gate of Heaven High School. He later graduated from Boston State College and received a master’s degree from Framingham State University. He served his nation proudly in the United States Navy. Jack served the people of the Commonwealth for thirty-six years as a member of the Massachusetts State Police. He loved to golf and was a member of Blackstone National Golf Club, where he and Deborah won the Goodwin Cup Championship in 2010 and 2019. He was a member of the Tuttle Post American Legion in Auburn and was Past President of the Massachusetts State Police Commissioned Officers Association.
John E. Durkin, M.Ed. ’54, Ed.D. ’58 died peacefully surrounded by his family on September 2, 2022, after a brief illness. He is predeceased by his beloved wife of 57 years, Joan (Barry) Durkin, and dear daughter, Christine M. Durkin (wife of John A. Menslage). John leaves five children, thirteen grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. His family includes his daughters Patricia Durkin Franklin, Maureen Durkin O’Connell and her husband Charles Pecevich, Eileen M. Barry and her husband Kevin Harkins, and his sons Timothy J. Durkin and Brian P. Durkin. In addition he leaves his cherished grandchildren Elise Franklin and her husband Scott and their children Calla and Adele, Marisa Graybill and her husband Raphael and their children Genevieve and Vivienne, and Garth Franklin and his partner Anna Moore; Ryan O’Connell (Brother Theophilus) and Annie O’Connell; Michael and Maeve Barry; Connor, Leeanne, Maxx, and Joan Durkin; and Grace and Luke Menslage. He leaves many devoted nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends. He also leaves his sisters Arlene F. Yenovkian and her husband Donald, Kathleen F. Donoghue and her husband Thomas, and his brother Thomas F. Durkin and his wife Judith.
John was born in Worcester to Mary (Guilfoyle) and Anthony Durkin. He graduated from Worcester State Teachers College in 1954 and received his master’s in education from Worcester State in 1958. He earned his education doctorate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1975. He was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps in 1956, having served as a first lieutenant. He dedicated his 39-year career to the Worcester Public Schools. After retirement he was assistant director and founder of the Massachusetts Academy for Math and Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and executive director of the Center for Effective Instruction at Worcester State University.
Kathleen M. (Zaterka) Napoli ’69, M.Ed. ’74 passed away after a short illness at the age of 75 on October 3, 2022. Kathy was born on June 25, 1947. A lifelong Worcester resident, Kathy was a graduate of Worcester State University and a teacher in the Worcester public school system for over 40 years, a profession she loved. Nothing in this world meant more to Kathy than her adoring grandchildren, whom she babysat and proudly supported in their sports and activities. Each day, you could find her driving them to school, sports, ballet, gymnastics, rock climbing and karate. Kathy leaves behind her two daughters, Amy Reid and husband Dennis and Jenny Montiverdi and husband Michael. She has four grandchildren: Casey, Zack, Leo, and Lucia. Kathy also leaves behind her sister Margie Sundstrom and husband Paul; her companion of over 30 years, John Brodrick; and nieces, nephews, and lifelong friends lovingly known as “the girls.” Kathy was the daughter of Marguerite and Emil Zaterka. She was predeceased by her husband, Peter Napoli. Her loved ones find comfort in knowing that they are reunited once again.
Beryl “Bev/Philomena” (Matthews) Pettiford, 65, of Worcester, died Friday, July 22, 2022 at St. Vincent’s Hospital after a courageous battle with cancer. She leaves five beloved children, Gary Pettiford, Lisa Pettiford, Kimberylee Martins and her husband Nelson Martins, Brittney Richards, and Monica Anukem; a sister-in-law, Margot Matthews; six grandchildren, Jolisa Zenny Pettiford, Jakayla C. Pettiford, Amani Pettiford, Michael A. Martins, Jordan T. Martins, and Hakeem Z. Richards; her former husband and lifelong friend, whom she met when they were 13 years old, Gary C. Pettiford; and several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by two brothers, Henry G. Matthews Jr. and John B. Matthews, and a granddaughter, Tatyana Abrams Pettiford.
Beryl was born in Boston, the daughter of the late Henry and Marilyn (Ford) Matthews. She enjoyed learning and immersing herself in different world cultures, cuisine, music, and arts throughout her lifetime. As a nontraditional college student at the age of 55, she was an inspiration to many. After graduating with a double associate degree from Quinsigamond Community College, she then went on to receive a bachelor of science in urban studies at Worcester State University. Beryl’s kindness touched many people. She made long-lasting impressions on many individuals, and she will be in the hearts and minds of her loved ones forever.