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Bob Cunningham, cloud physicist and Lincoln resident since 1948, died April 15, 2008, at the age of 88. Bob built his house on Rockwood Lane with his own hands and had lived there with his wife, Claire, raising their three sons, Peter, Jim, and Bill.

Parents and Childhood
At an early age Bob knew that he wanted to study the sky. From his first word "ice," weather was his life's passion. Raised in Cambridge, he came from a literary family; his father William Hayes Cunningham attended Harvard College and taught in the Boston schools for the next 44 years. His father authored many of the English texts and anthologies that were used in high schools around the country well into the 1970s. Bob's mother, Mildred Pilpel, came from a tradition of strong women. Her mother Cecile was in the founding group of The Ethical Culture Society and The Child Study Association. Mildred was a research social worker at Harvard and a board member of Planned Parenthood for 25 years.

Bob attended Shady Hill School and the Cambridge School of Weston. He found his own way within this literate family through his interest in equations and the atmosphere. He built his first weather station at Cambridge School, only to see it blown down in the Hurricane of 1938. In his teenage years he became involved at the Blue Hill Observatory, and then became a founding member of the Mt. Washington Observatory, where he spent winter months stationed at the summit. In later years he enjoyed climbing and skiing down Tuckerman's Ravine with his wife, Claire, who had learned to ski in the Alps.

The summer of 1937 was Bob's first trip to Kent Island, a scientific research station six miles south of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy. His summer job was to milk the cow, but the experience led him to his adopted family, the Tates, and to his wilderness mentor, Ernest Joy. Bob's letters from Ernest, a legendary storyteller and the lone caretaker of Kent Island through the war years, are now a treasured part of the collection in the Grand Manan Museum.

Claire and Life in Lincoln
Claire Steinhardt left Vienna, her childhood home, in 1938 at the age of 19. Working as a chemist in Cambridge at Arthur D. Little, she proposed a bicycle ride with a colleague up Belmont Hill to Walden Pond; but that guy couldn't make it all the way. The next week she did the same thing with Bob and he made it. They were married in 1945 in the Riverside Church in New York City by Harry Emerson Fosdick, who had also sponsored Claire's immigration from Europe. Claire taught mathematics for 9 years at Cambridge School and then 11 years at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School. Also at Lincoln-Sudbury were Peter '65, Jim '67, and Bill '72.

Rockwood Lane neighbor Ruth Williams: "in 1949 three fellows from MIT who were working together on the Weather Radar Project got together to build houses." Ed Williams continues: "Herb was a flyboy, the ground controller of the flights, I was the radar man, and Bob flew into the weather."

Bob was a deacon at the First Parish Church and Claire balanced many a budget there. On their honeymoon Claire would spend her days drawing up family budgets while Bob would be making rivers in the mudflats of Mt Desert Island. 

Professional Life at MIT, AFCRL, the WMO, and Grand Manan
Bob worked on plane de-icing during WWII and then joined the Air Force Cambridge Research Labs at Hanscom. He led the cloud physics branch, with particular focus on both the theory of and flying through rough weather such as thunderstorms. He would attach probes to attract lightning to the plane and had significant hail damage on a number of occasions. The crew painted an insignia on the C-130 - "Cunningham's Roughriders." Bob also had one of his photographs of a thunderstorm taken from the nose of his C-130 airplane featured as a double page centerfold in the well-known Marilyn Monroe Life magazine issue. After AFCRL, Bob directed a group of 70 researchers from around the world for the UN's World Meteorological Organization. They spent three years in Spain studying the realities of cloud seeding and precipitation enhancement. His research travel also took him to Cape Canaveral (flying around the Mercury shots), Kwajalein, Maui, Brazil, Australia, and the USSR. Bob's professional life as a cloud physicist and his hobby as a collector of fog samples in The Bay of Fundy is detailed at

Although Bob loved his work flying through clouds all over the world, whenever he got the chance he would head up to Grand Manan and Kent Islands. He loved to take his twelve foot skiff called "Fogseeker" out of the Ingalls' Head Harbor into the fog, wind, and tides for the 45 minute crossing to Kent Island. It was a dangerous trip and there were no cell phone or GPS as there is now. Claire hated it when he did that. Fishing was no sport on Grand Manan, it was how a living was made - Bob would go out with fishermen "family" to the Grand Manan Banks for three days at a time, hand lining for cod, pollack, and haddock. He also made winter trips to help with the lobster fishing.

The challenge of receiving weather data in remote locations so he could draw his daily maps of the east coast weather patterns required that he learn and install whatever was the most efficient technology of the time - from hand-written records through automated data taking. Now the Kent Island weather is available on-line, along with the historic data since the 1930s. His fog studies cover well over 60 years - same equipment, same isolated location, same researcher - a rarity for long-term studies.

End of Life
As his body absorbed the various inevitable arrows that target longevity, Bob continued to display a zest and desire for being alive. He continued to develop close bonds with his new caretakers, particularly those at the Walden Dialysis clinic under the supervision of Dr. Valerie Price. Dr Charles Keevil said, "Bob was a rare patient who made the doctor feel better for the encounter, he was a projection of a positive field of force,