DR. CONNIE ANN CUMMINGS
January 5, 1963 – June 15, 2020
DURHAM – Dr. Connie Ann Cummings, 57, of Durham, died Monday morning at her home.
Connie was raised in Rocky Mount, NC by two wonderful parents, the late Edwin Keith and Dorothy Marshall Cummings. She was also preceded in death by her sister, Bonnie Jan Cummings and her brother, Dave Russell Cummings, as well as well as her beloved grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Dr. Cummings was a life-long, self-motivated learner who achieved numerous degrees and accolades for her work in veterinary pathology, histopathology, and electron microscopy. Her professional degrees included a PhD in Pathology from Oklahoma State University in 2001. Her dissertation "A Morphologic and Immunologic Study of Hepatozoon americanum Infection in Dogs", while hard to pronounce, was one example of her search for understanding disease and suffering in animals from a very young age. Dr. Cummings also completed a Residency in Veterinary Pathology at Oklahoma State University after earning her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1995 from Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine. She became a member of “the pack” when she received her B.S. degrees in Animal Science and Agriculture Business Management from North Carolina State University in 1985. She also received a Forensic Science and Medicine Certificate from the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2014.
Dr. Cummings held numerous roles over her career, including Research Technician at Duke University Radiation Oncology, Staff Pathologist, Manager of Ultrastructural Pathology at GlaxoSmithKline, and Ultrastructural Pathologist contractor for a company that provided electron microscopy services for the National Institute of Environmental Health & Science and National Toxicology Program. Dr. Cummings formed her own company in 2009, UltraPath Imaging, in which she managed and operated a working EM laboratory. She was truly happy when she was doing drug research and evaluating histopathology and electron microscopy samples.
Connie loved everything about nature, especially animals, gardens, and flowers. She knew at 6 years old she wanted to do something in her life that involved animals. She spent many days and summers on her Grandma Marshall’s farm caring for all the animals and helping her Grandma and Aunt Frances manage the fields and crops. She adopted and cared for many rescue dogs over the years (Molly Bug, Billy Bob, Mac and Patches to name a few). She posted on her social media page years ago “If you haven’t loved a dog, a part of your heart has never opened”. She also loved Jenx, a horse she walked and talked to many days she needed relief from her migraines and life’s challenges. One of her favorite quotes was from the British veterinary surgeon and writer, James Herriot: “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” Her backyard was talked about in whispers among the deer, birds, and squirrels that enjoyed the special treats she laid out for their enjoyment. Her posts of baby goats in sweaters, flowers in her yard, and funny commercials involving animals hinted at her impish sense of humor and her desire to share her love of animals with others. She enjoyed Christmas, the mountains, and her cowboy boots.
For 25 years, she was married to and loved Gary Willmon. A poem, written by Pablo Neruda, was in her Bible and reflects her faith in her marriage: “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride; so I love you because I know no other way than this: where I does not exist, nor you, so close that your hand on my chest is my hand, so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.” Connie fell asleep in love with Gary and with her God.
The family is comforted knowing Connie is with all the loved ones and friends that have gone before her, that she is able to see her beloved animal friends in person again, and that she is able to fully enjoy all the creatures great and small and the fields of flowers that only Heaven holds.
A graveside service will be held Saturday, June 20 at 2 pm at the family cemetery across the street from the Flat Rock Baptist Church. Connie is survived by her loving husband of 25 years, Gary Willmon; step-daughter, Shandi Oneal and step-grandson, William Oneal both of Arkansas; sisters, Mary Sue Cummings Collier of Greenville, NC and Emma Joan Cummings of Wilson, NC; brother, Ken E. Cummings of Durham, NC; nephew, Duane Cummings of Pine Tops, NC; and aunts, Alma Small and Frances Marshall both of Louisburg, NC.
Donations can be made to Paws For Life in memory of Dr. Connie Cummings, P. O. Box 338, Youngsville, NC 27596 or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 3902 Berini Drive, Durham, NC 27705.
Arrangements are by Strickland Funeral Home & Crematory, Louisburg, www.stricklandfuneralhome.net.
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