Paul Donald McCusker, age 89, born September 23, 1921, passed away at home in Durham, North Carolina, on November 23rd, 2010, after a long illness and less than 3 months after the death of his wife of 62 years, Joan.
Paul was born in Niagara Falls, New York, the third child of Alexander McCusker and Catherine Barron McCusker. Paul was raised by his mother, as his father died when he was a baby. Paul achieved early fame at age 13 when he won second place as Boy Champion Speller of the United States at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. He went on to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, and was “accelerated” to graduate with a B.A. in Economics after 3 years. Immediately afterwards he joined the US army and was assigned to Stanford University to study the Italian language and the European area.
While at Stanford, he met his future wife, Joan Gross from Denver, Colorado, who was studying at Mills College in Oakland. In the event, despite growing fluency in Italian, Paul served in India in World War II. In 1948, he married Joan, received his law degree from Cornell and was admitted to practice in New York in 1949.
He had, however, received a Fulbright Fellowship to study International Law in Rome. He and his wife spent six years in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in Italian law and joined the Foreign Service as Legal Officer. His first two children, Karen and Mary, were born in Rome.
Paul’s Foreign Service career took him to the Consulate General in Hamburg, Germany, where he was chief of the Consular Section and subsequently of the Economic/Commercial Section. Here, son Paul Alexander was born. In 1965, the family moved to Djakarta, Indonesia, where Paul was Counselor of Economic Affairs during the political upheaval of the waning Sukarno years. During his time there, his fourth child, Ian Francis, was born in Penang, Malaysia.
Paul left the Foreign Service to join the United Nations under U Thant in 1969. He was with the UN for thirteen years, including a stint with UNIDO in Vienna from 1973 – 1976. Paul and his family were residents of Pelham, New York, during the years of his service with the Secretariat. He retired from the position of Director of Professional Recruitment Services at the UN Secretariat in 1982.
After his retirement from the UN, Paul practiced law with the New York law firm of Garrity, Connolly, Lewis, Lowry & Grimes. During this time he taught a course to graduate students on Public International Law as Adjunct Professor at Long Island University. Paul’s youngest son, Ian Francis, died tragically in 1985, in a freak accident playing frisbee at Georgetown University, where he had just started. In 1993, Paul withdrew from what had become the law firm of Garrity & McCusker. He continued to do pro bono legal work and translated a book on the popes “The Popes: Histories and Secrets” by Claudio Rendina from the Italian.
In 1999, Paul and Joan moved to Durham, North Carolina. They loved their adopted home and were active in cultural groups in the community. Paul continued to teach courses in international law at the Duke Institute for Learning in Retirement and work on estates and wills until just a few years ago. Fluent in several languages, Paul was a lover of classical music, particularly opera, and an adept bridge player.
Paul, predeceased by both his wife, Joan, and his youngest son, Ian Francis, leaves three children, Karen McCusker of Chevry, France, Mary McCusker McLoughney of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Paul Alexander McCusker of Maconnex, France; five grand-children, Claire McCusker, Tessa and Rory McLoughney and Daniel and Samuel McCusker Alvarez, and two step-grandchildren, Daragh and Niamh McLoughney of Dublin, Ireland.
A funeral Mass will be held in Paul’s memory at Immaculate Conception Church, at 810 West Chapel Hill Street in Durham, at 10 a.m. on Friday, December 3. Visitation will be immediately prior to the Mass starting at 9 a.m. in the Daily Chapel and the family will be receiving guests immediately after the ceremony in the gathering space at the church.
A private cremation ceremony will be held at the Hall-Wynne Crematory.
For anyone wishing to contribute in Paul’s name, donations to the scholarship fund set up for Ian at Georgetown are welcome to be sent to Georgetown University Office of Advancement, attn. Jessica Perlman, 2115 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20007.
On-line memorials: www.hallwynne.com. Select obituaries.