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Longtime North Chelmsford Woman Owned and Managed Realty Company

Rita M. Cunningham, 82, a longtime North Chelmsford resident, passed away on June 25 surrounded by family and friends.

Rita M. Cunningham, 82. Photo: Dolan Funeral Home
Rita M. Cunningham, 82. Photo: Dolan Funeral Home
The following is an obituary courtesy of Dolan Funeral Home.

Rita M. Cunningham, 82, a longtime resident of North Chelmsford, passed away peacefully at Wingate Nursing Facility, June 25, 2014 surrounded by her loving family and friends.

She was the beloved wife of the late Edward P. Cunningham, who died July 31, 1998.

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, September 22, 1931, and residing in Billerica for many years, the daughter of the late George K. Hennessey and Charlotte (Hill) Hennessey, Rita graduated from The Academy of Notre Dame in Tyngsboro and went on to attend New England Conservatory of Music. Prior to her marriage she worked at Loring Photography Studios and also as an accomplished musician and entertainer in Lowell.

Rita was a devoted communicant of St. Johns Church in North Chelmsford.

Married in 1955, Rita and her husband successfully owned and managed Cunningham Realty, Inc. which includes Cunningham Community Care assisted living facilities in Lowell as well as the Rye Beach Motel and Cottages in Rye, New Hampshire. In addition to actively managing the motel, Rita spent many happy summers with her family and friends at her summer home in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire.

Rita was a loving mother, wife, aunt, sister, sister-in-law, and friend. Although always very busy meeting the demands of the family-owned business, Rita, always with a smile and a compliment, was compassionate and generous to all who knew her. She made herself available to those that needed her guidance by providing advice, support, and assistance. Her unselfish generosity and charitable giving provided comfort to many. She created many cherished memories for her family and friends and served as an inspiration to all that knew her. We will forever be grateful for her fun-loving and uplifting personality which provided such happiness to all who knew her. Whether it was a birthday, holiday, or family party, Rita made sure it was a memorable celebration for all. The beach house parties she organized were unforgettable, especially the annual Rye Beach Fashion Show, an event Rita advised everyone not to miss!

Rita is survived by three children, Edward Jr, of Lowell, Lynn C. Herron and her husband John of Chelmsford, and Douglas, of Lowell, her cousins Beverly Runge of Chelmsford and Patricia Griffin of Inverness, Florida, sister-in-law Aline Cunningham of Dracut, Aline’s brother J. Henry Landry of Lowell, and also her dear nieces Kathy Stott of Chelmsford and Jacqueline Lowe of Pepperell, and many additional nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews. The family acknowledges her dear friends Jane Nelligan Lowe and Ody Brouillette of Lowell. In addition to her friends, Rita and her family are especially grateful to her many caregivers assisting the family for more than six years; their compassion, dedication, and friendship provided 24 hour in-home excellent care resulting in many hours of enjoyment for Rita. The family is also grateful to the wonderful staff of Wingate Nursing Facility at Belvedere for the comfort provided to Rita during her stay.

She was the sister of the late Kathleen Swimm, the late George Hennessey, the late Arthur Hennessey, the late Robert Hennessey, and the late James Hennessey. She was also predeceased by her cousin, Francis Breen.

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