Richard Cunningham - 2012 Professionalism Award
Born in Akron, Dick grew up in Cuyahoga Falls and graduated from Cuyahoga Falls High School in 1948. He attended Western Reserve University for one year before transferring to Columbia University on an NROTC scholarship. He then transferred to the University of Illinois Law School, where he graduated in June 1953 and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He was admitted to the Ohio and Illinois Bars in March and April of 1953. After serving three years in the Navy as a legal officer, Dick joined the office of the Attorney General of Ohio, serving in the Section of Workers’ Compensation and doing trial and appellate work. He returned to Akron in 1957 and began a general practice in an office-sharing arrangement with his late father, Ernest, and the late Bernard J. Amer and Charles S. Schnur. In 1971, Bernard Amer, Dick and David L. Brennan formed and incorporated the law firm formerly known as Amer Cunningham Brennan Co., L.P.A. Dick's practice eventually narrowed to trial and appellate work in the areas of personal injury, business and real estate law.
Dick is a past President of the Akron Bar Association, a former member of the Executive Committee of the Ohio State Bar Association, a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a life member to the Conference of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of the United States, a member of the Akron, Ohio, State and American Bar Associations and a Fellow of the Akron, Ohio, and American Bar Foundations.
In his "President’s Message" for the Bar, in 1976, he coined the phrase, "The Akron Lawyer", describing that Lawyer as "a proud and dedicated professional in the law, amenable to changes in legal and office procedures, but unbending to change in integrity and honesty to himself, to his clients, and to his profession." He predicted that the Akron Lawyers would survive and would continue to be considered as the best Bar in Ohio.
In his community, Dick served a nine-year term on the Board of Trustees of Kent State University (two years as chairman), a six-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Kent State University Foundation (two years as Chairman) and a four-year term on Cuyahoga Falls School Board. He is past President of the Cuyahoga Falls Rotary Club and Cuyahoga Falls Family Service. In 1989, he gave the Commencement Address at Kent State University. Excerpts from his speech have been published in a book by Peter J. Smith entitled "ONWARD: twenty-five years of exhortation and inspiration from America's best commencement speeches." The author read 2500 speeches and chose, what he considered, the best 250 speeches. Dick volunteered for three years at a local inner-city school and authored and gave a "Street Law" program to fourth graders.
Dick was married to Mary Lou (Mackin) from 1953 until her death in 1999. Born of this marriage were eight children, six now surviving, and 15 grandchildren. Dick also has a stepson after marrying June L. (Henry) in 2002.
Dick joined the Akron law firm of Brouse McDowell as "Of Counsel" in the firm's litigation and appellate practices in 2001. He presently has finished his book on lawyers and others on living a happy and successful life. The book is entitled, Order in Your Court; Happiness in Your Life