Patrick J. Cunningham, 17, Calvert Hall College senior, Oak Crest Village volunteer

April 25, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Patrick J. Cunningham, a Calvert Hall College High School senior who volunteered at Oak Crest Village retirement community, died early Sunday after a car he was driving had a blowout and struck a utility pole in Kingsville. He was 17 and lived in Joppa.

An easygoing 6-footer with light curly hair, Mr. Cunningham was remembered yesterday by faculty and students at the Towson school as a hard-working student and caring individual who always had time for others.

"He was a warm person who alhad a smile on his face. He worked hard at his studies. In fact, he worked hard at everything he did," said Sean M. Miller, a senior and close friend who lives in Baldwin.

David R. Shapiro, also a senior and neighbor, said the two spent a lot of time together since becoming close friends in 1997.

"He'd come over, and we would watch World Wrestling or drive places together. He was a really good kid who was polite, kind and comfortable with himself. He never tried to show off. He was just Pat," Mr. Shapiro said.

"It's really very difficult seeing his empty seat in the classroom," said Cathy A. Thomas, who was Mr. Cunningham's fourth-year Spanish teacher.

"He was a really nice kid with a big heart. He kept plugging away. ... He was always a very willing participant in class, and I know we're really going to miss him," said Ms. Thomas.

Judy S. Ulrich, a religion teacher who taught Mr. Cunningham last year, recalled his sincerity.

"He had a really good work ethic, and he inspired me with his sincerity. He didn't play around and always spoke from the heart," Ms. Ulrich said.

As part of his community service requirement, Mr. Cunningham volunteered at Oak Crest Village in Parkville.

"He really enjoyed his public service, and I think it was a good experience for him," said Mike Vogrin, who teaches Christian involvement, a senior religion course.

Elaine P. Wagenfuehr, director of volunteer programs and community outreach at the retirement community, said, "He would come Sunday afternoons and played games and talked to residents of the extended care area.

"You could tell that he enjoyed being here with the residents, and he gave them a great deal. He made them happy and put lots of joy in their lives," she said.

She described Mr. Cunningham as "dependable and always very pleasant."

Born and raised in Parkville, he had lived in Joppa since 1999. As a youngster, he had played shortstop for the Hamilton Little League.

"He was a big Cal Ripken fan and always wore No. 8," said his father, John "Jack" R. Cunningham Sr. of Charles Village.

He also liked lacrosse and basketball. He often played pickup hoops at the Bel Air Athletic Club.

After graduation from Calvert Hall, he had planned to study at Harford Community College and was contemplating a career in journalism, said family members.

"Pat's death happened in the season of the Resurrection, and life doesn't end here. As Christians, we believe that life goes on, and it gives us hope," said the Rev. John O'Brien, head of the school's campus ministry.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11:30 a.m. today at Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd., Baynesville.

In addition to his father, he is survived by his mother, Colleen Cunningham of Joppa; a brother, John R. Cunningham Jr. of Joppa; his paternal grandfather, Robert Cunningham of Perry Hall; his maternal grandparents, Jim McGarvey and Mary McGarvey of Parkville; and many uncles, aunts and cousins.

Memorial donations may be made in his name to Calvert Hall College High School, 8102 LaSalle Road, Towson 21286.

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