John Bernard Cusack

February 16, 1933 ~ June 17, 2020 (age 87)


The Canadian son of a longshoreman who became a U.S. history professor. The city kid from

Saint John, New Brunswick who built a house by hand in rural Nova Scotia. A southpaw. A

redhead. An exceptionally loving husband, father and grandfather. If you knew him, you know

that he told great stories, watched ALL the sports and loved to drive. His drink: Coke. His

favorite food: candy, all kinds. When he laughed hard, which he did often, he sometimes

pounded the table.

John “Bernie” Cusack was born on February 16, 1933 in St. John, New Brunswick, the third son

of Eddie and Anne Cusack. Bernie was the first in his family to go to college. He attended St.

Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where he earned a degree in Engineering

and, more importantly, met the love of his life, Elizabeth Sears, through her brother John T.

Sears, a fellow student of Bernie’s.

After their marriage, they moved to Boston, a city they have embraced in so many ways for the

past 64 years. After working for a few years as a structural engineer, he made a brave career

pivot into academia and spent the next ten years as a student teacher earning his PhD in

American History at Boston University. By the time he got his degree, he and Elizabeth were

blessed with four children: Fran (“Pancho”), Carrie, John and Jen. Bernie was a popular

professor at Emmanuel College for 30 years and loved it so much he said he sometimes

worried someone would tell him it had all been a mistake and take it away. He also coached

Brighton Little League and volunteered at St. Anthony’s Church in Allston and the

Brighton-Allston Heritage Museum.

While they raised their family in Brighton and Elizabeth worked as a librarian in the Boston

Public Schools, they always returned to Nova Scotia in the summers. For Bernie’s children, it

was a wonderful thing to have their father around all summer long in Lakevale, Nova Scotia. It’s

a place of dear family and friends that meant the world to Bernie.

Before and after retirement, he and Elizabeth saw the world together, visiting and traveling with

their loving family everywhere from Australia to the Yukon, Florence to Paris to Chicago and

many places in between. Throughout Bernie’s life, Elizabeth connected him to their large

community of family and friends by hosting so many celebrations, dinners and events. That was

one of the many gifts she gave him. In return, he loved her unconditionally and drove her all

over the U.S. and Canada.

When they weren’t traveling, reading or watching sports, Bernie and Elizabeth were busy loving

their children and their eight very lucky grandchildren: Noah, Geneva, Angus, Tom, Seamus,

Will, Rose and Adelaide. Bernie also leaves his devoted daughters- and sons-in-law Marie

Armstrong, Colleen McGuire, Phoebe Cusack, Dan Cashmore and Mike Baker.

Bernie’s career as a history professor and Elizabeth’s as a school librarian helped to make the

whole family a book family. When you’re reading a really good book, you start to feel sad when

you realize there are only a few pages left. You wonder how the author can end it in a way that

will satisfy you. You wonder what’s going to happen to the characters you’ve grown to love

when you close the cover. Now we’ve come to the end of the book of Bernie. What an incredible

story it’s been for all of us.

Due to the pandemic, funeral services will be private. We look forward to celebrating Bernie’s

life with family and friends as soon as we safely can. If you want to honor Bernie’s memory with

a donation, please consider supporting Emmanuel College’s Emmanuel Fund at The family has three proud Emmanuel graduates.


Private Services

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