Nancy Cunningham, Community Activist, Dies

By Lisa Zimble

Venice lost a longtime resident and ardent supporter of the community, when our friend Nancy Cunningham passed away in her home on October 6 from complications due to esophageal cancer.  She had lived in Venice since 1991.

Although Nancy never married nor had children, she is loved and remembered by those lucky enough to be counted as her friends and neighbors. We admired her fierce independence, her prodigious intellect, her blunt honesty, and her unfailing kindness.

She was often out and about with her two dogs, Justice and Lazarus, who predeceased her in the last year.  Her cat Max remains on the block, adopted by kind neighbors, and still takes his place on the bench in Nancy’s yard, guardian of her memory and potted plants.

Born in Minneapolis, Nancy graduated Stanford in 1959 and practiced criminal law in the L.A. Public Defender’s office until her retirement in 2004. She was a fearless, outspoken and generous supporter of progressive political causes and a crusader for animal rights. Art, travel, service, reading, women’s rights, her pets and friends constituted the core abiding values of her life. She also loved football, her Venice bungalow, her Mini Cooper, and had no use for organized religion, republicans, and/or other kinds of fools.

One of her favorite pastimes was bringing challenging, and what some might consider subversive literature to children.  She loved prying open little minds, helping to turn the neighborhood kids in her life into independent critical thinkers.

She was used to making her own decisions, and as cancer ravaged her body, she decided it was time to go, and she went. Her belief in the afterlife not only did not sustain her, but was non-existent. Still, she was fearless in her final weeks, as she had been her entire life. If she runs into God, she’s going to be extremely surprised.

Her distinctive and ready laugh still rebounds up and down our street. Nancy, you will be missed.

Donations in Nancy’s memory can be made to VCHC – Venice Community Housing Corporation, 720 Rose Ave. Venice, CA 90291 (310) 399-4100,; Inside Out Community Arts, 2210 Lincoln Boulevard Venice, CA 90291 (310) 397-8820,; or Venice Arts, 610 California Avenue, Venice, CA 90291
(310) 578-1745


Categories: Obituary