Robert Thomas Cunningham, 44, passed away unexpectedly at his home in Plymouth, on Thursday, March 16, 2017. Rob is survived by his wife Jennifer (Lowder) Cunningham, his children Casey Marie and Robert Declan of Plymouth, his parents, Robert and Patricia Cunningham of Abington, Mass., siblings Kathleen Gajewski and Mike of Whitman, Mass., Jennifer Dongarra and Chris of Merrimack, N.H., John Cunningham and Kerry (Sweeney) of Bradford, Mass., brother-in-law Michael Lowder and Tonya of Hopewell, Va.
Rob was also loved by many adoring nieces and nephews, John, Alexandra, Ty, Sabrina, Colt, Dylan and Race, many aunts, uncles, a bazillion cousins and countless friends. Rob grew up in Abington. He was a graduate of BC High and became a double eagle when he graduated from Boston College in 1994 with a degree in Political Science. We all thought that and a quarter would buy him a cup of coffee, but it turns out we were wrong.
Rob's love for politics was undeniable. Whether you were at the dinner table or at the state house with him, Rob always made his opinion known. Rob served on many town committees, finance committees, and local and state campaigns. In 2013, Rob was honored to become the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Republican Party, later going on to become the Director of the Department of Unemployment Assistance for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rob's service and dedication to others didn't end at 5. Rob was proud to be an eagle scout and volunteered much of his time to the Boy Scouts in both Abington and Plymouth. Rob loved life. He enjoyed going to Pats games, traveling with his family and making people laugh whenever he could. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
From The Boston Globe
"He was remembered by colleagues as an unflappable presence in the often-unruly world of campaign politics and for helping to bring reforms to the unemployment assistance office he took over in 2015.
In a statement, Governor Charlie Baker said, 'Being around Rob meant sharing his enthusiasm and positive attitude no matter how great the task at hand was. I am fortunate to have worked with this man who cherished his family, gave so much back to the community, and made the Commonwealth a better place. As a friend and as a committed public servant, we will miss him deeply.'
Cunningham managed a number of state and local campaigns, including Scott Brown’s winning state Senate race in 2004. He became executive director of the state GOP in 2013.
The following year, the party recaptured the governorship for the first time in eight years and picked up a number of state legislative seats.
State GOP chairwoman Kirsten Hughes, in a phone interview Thursday, called Cunningham 'a great friend and somebody who you could go to with any personal or professional problem and he would help you solve it.'
Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker II, in a statement, said Cunningham 'was a great family man, a warm and gregarious human being, and a dedicated public servant. More than just a great personal loss to those who knew him well, this is also a loss for the Commonwealth and the people of Massachusetts.'"
A committed public servant and accomplished political operative, Rob Cunningham was a friend and mentor to many.
Rob was an accomplished campaign operative whose talents contributed to countless victories around the South Shore and Cape Cod. His remarkable success continued when he was a key player in victory of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito in 2014, when he served as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Republican Party.
Rob went on to serve as the Commonwealth's Director of Unemployment Assistance, where he brought smart, reform-oriented leadership to that agency. Rob's success wasn't a surprise to those who knew him and worked with him: he brought excellence to everything he did.
Along the way, Rob touched so many with his humor, wit, remarkable talents and unflappable nature. As Governor Baker said in his eulogy, "We would not be in the State House right now were it not for this amazing man."
But more importantly, Rob was a family man, who loved his beautiful wife, Jen, took many family trips (especially to his favorite place, Disney World), and was a great Dad to Casey, and his young son, Robbie. Rob was an Eagle Scout and spent many hours volunteering for the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.