Robert Cumming, Jr.: 1979-2001

By Renee DiPietro
November 1, 2001

courtesy of Jake Maze

Robert B. Cumming, Jr., 22, died Monday, Oct. 22, 2001. His death was felt as an unpredictable catastrophe throughout the campus community and throughout Yardley, Pa, his hometown where family and friends reside, yet his life and his passions were felt with greater effects.

Cumming was a college student with big plans. He had potential bursting from his fingertips. His passions occupied his free time and he frequently traveled around in pursuit of one of the most important things in his life, the band Phish. Cumming and his friends have been coast-to-coast following the band. To some people Phish is just a band but to Cumming and his friends Phish was a lot more than that.

“Rob’s passion for Phish was more like a journey. They would collect rocks from each concert,” Cumming’s father, Robert B. Cumming, said. “He had the most extensive Phish collection in the world. He traveled to California, Colorado, Minnesota, Atlanta.he’s been to more states than I have.”

Lacrosse was another one of Cumming’s passions. He was a high quality athlete just as he was a music fan. He was the captain of his lacrosse team at Holy Ghost Preparatory school and currently holds the record for the most goals scored by a high school player in Pa.

“It [lacrosse] was new in the area and he got into it and loved it. It’s an athletic game and because it combines a lot into one, that’s why I think he loved it,” Cumming said. “Rob was recruited to play lacrosse for Drexel University. The eight-hour practice days during the off-season turned Rob off to the team.”

Cumming said his son played lacrosse because he enjoyed the sport, but not when it became like a job. He believes his son did not play at Cabrini because “he didn’t want to get into the strenuous program physically and daily again, yet it was still something he loved.”

Cumming also loved soccer and basketball. He was a New York Yankee and Giants fan. He was a best friend to many. One of his friends, an only child, had his life changed through his friendship with Rob and felt he gained not only a friend but also a brother with their friendship. Cumming was someone who once he opened to you, you knew him and loved him. He was the strength and support of many. He created some of the fondest moments of life for others. He was going places in life and had already been to so many. He worked out his hard days and enjoyed his happy ones.

Cumming’s friends asked how could they lose a brother that they felt so dependent on? One said that no one should lose the Rob in his or her life.

“I think what you see around him is the people’s tremendous sense of loss,” Cumming’s advisor, Dr. Brian Metz, of the business administration department, said. Cumming was a business administration major, with a minor in finance.

“So many people knew him, were impacted by him, and the people who didn’t know him learned how something really special was lost,” Metz said.

Metz taught Robert four classes after he transferred from Drexel University to Cabrini. “I got to know him inside and outside of the classroom. He was quiet but I found him interesting. I always enjoyed the extra minute I would get to chat with him before class.

“He never talked about himself. He wasn’t boastful. He wasn’t self-focused. When you talked to Robert it wasn’t all about him.

“He was by any measures, a good student. Always present physically and mentally,” Metz said. Cumming sat towards the front of the classroom in Metz’s classes and if Metz ever needed to anticipate if the students comprehended the class material or the exam, he would ask Cumming what he thought. Cumming was like a “barometer” that Metz could measure his class against.

“He was in my Seminar 300 class,” Dr. Sharon Schwarze, philosophy department chair, said. “At first he rather resisted having to do community service, but he always took responsibility while working with the people at the St. Edmond’s Home.

“He thoroughly enjoyed it and he thanked me afterwards. It was a very worth wild experience for him personally,” Schwarze said.

Cumming’s friend Dustin Farrell, senior English and communication major, said how he admired his friend’s athletic talent and how “Rob turned his life around pretty much in the past year and a half.”

Jake Maze, Cumming’s best friend, described Cumming as having a harder outer shell that was difficult to get through but well worth it.

“Once you got through the outer shell and into the friendship there was no getting out. He would do anything for his friends. He would come and pick you up anywhere or buy his friend an airline ticket to California to go see a Phish concert,” Maze said.

Maze met Cumming when he first came to Cabrini through a mutual friend. Maze is a senior English and communication major. This year he lived within walking distance of Cumming’s house in Ardmore.

“Our friendship was weird. We would be together all the time. He lived right down the street. Anytime I was having an emotional day I would go to Rob’s house to be in his environment and to have my spirits lifted. There was never any negative energy in that house.

“He was a hard kid to get to know but once you did it was a genuine friendship. We use to jam out to the same vibe but to a completely different beat. I am into the rave, the electronic dance movement, whereas he was into the Phish movement. like I say same vibe, different beat,” Maze said.

Maze recalls how the Friday before Cumming passed away Cumming told him not to light up his cigarette in his house. When Maze questioned him why and whose new rule it was, Cumming answered back, “Mine.” He told Maze that he quit and was also doing some serious working out to get back into shape.

“He was bettering himself everyday,” Maze said.

“He was a great kid,” Cumming said, “Rob was close with his friends from high school. They all went to different colleges but they saw each other on the weekends. Their spirits spread to other people as they remained tight, till this day.”

Cumming is survived by his parents, Robert B. and JoAnne Hetman Cumming, his brothers and sister, Evan, 14, Sara, 12, and Kyle Cumming, 7, his grandmother, Anne Hetman, and several aunts, uncles and cousins. Services were held Friday night, Oct. 26, and Saturday morning, Oct. 27 at the Fitzgerald-Sommer Funeral home and the Holy Ghost Chapel in Yardley, Pa.

Contributions may be made to the Robert B. Cumming, Jr. Memorial Fund by sending donations to Louis Cachio, Jr., Holy Ghost Prep, 2429 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, Pa 19020.

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Renee DiPietro

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