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Frank Cunningham

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Marsha Wiener

(June, 2013) Seattle area rowing icon Frank Cunningham died at the age of 91 on March 5, 2013 from complications following hip replacement surgery. A US Rowing Hall of Famer who co-founded the Seattle Parks Junior Rowing Crew Program in the 1940s, Harvard-educated, Frank was known as a “Renaissance guy” who had a hands-on talent for repairing boats in addition to his work over the years as a rowing coach, educator and author. (A dog-eared copy of his slim book “The Sculler at Ease” holds a place on many a rower’s bookshelf, a tome to be referred to repeatedly over the years for guidance on proper rowing technique.)

Believing that good technique could beat brute strength in a “sport marked by nuance; that’s where it departs from exercise,” as he said, Frank contributed to the emergence of women’s rowing as a major competitive sport. Many of us met Frank during Wooden Boat Festival weekends, when he would come to Port Townsend and spend time at Steve Chapin’s boat shop and attend the Buckleys’ post-Wooden Boat Festival Race parties. He was an elegant gentleman who made major contributions to the sport that we love. He will be remembered fondly and sadly missed.


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