Friends remembered: Earl E. Cummins

Earl E. Cummins and Mary E. Shaffer, the woman he saved from a burning home.

Earl E. Cummins, 90, formerly of Fairhope, Pennsylvania, died Sunday, April 17, 2022.

In 2004, Cummins saved a 76-year-old woman from burning after fire broke out in her Hyndman, Pennsylvania, home. Cummins, 72, was driving nearby and saw flames issuing high above the house of his acquaintance. He parked at the scene and positioned his car so its headlights shined into the house through a large front window. Cummins opened the front door and shouted for the woman. Hearing her response, Cummins entered the house and crouched over in the dense smoke and intense heat, following the sound of her voice. He found the woman in the kitchen. Cummins pushed her along, retracing his steps to the front door. They exited to safety. Both suffered smoke inhalation, and Cummins required hospital treatment, but they recovered. Cummins was awarded the Carnegie Medal in 2005.

Cummins was born March 11, 1932 – the seventh of 13 children to Homer and Salena Cummins.

In 1953, he married Shirley Rosel la Shumaker. The couple had five children that they raised in Middle River, Maryland.

During the Korean War, Cummins served in the U.S. Air Force as a sheet metal worker repairing damaged airplanes.

He had a lifelong passion for flying and aircrafts.

In 2012, he piloted his own powered parachute with his co-pilot, Bernie Shaffer, for the last time at 80 years old.

Cummins retired from Bethlehem Steel and returned to Fairhope to live in the home he built, which he referred to as “the second-best place.” He hosted many train enthusiasts and fishermen in the A-frame on his property.

Cummins enjoyed hunting, fishing, woodworking, and giving tractor rides to his grandchildren on his beloved tractor, “Alice.”

He was always helping people in need whether it was a stranger, family, friends, or members of the community.

Never letting his age stop him, Cummins’ travels included Israel, Belarus, Russia, and China. He also took mission trips to Andros Island and the Bahamas.

Stateside, he was always willing to travel across the country to welcome a new grandchild or to support his loved ones in their endeavors.

Described by his family as a fierce competitor, Cummins enjoyed playing Phase 10, shuffleboard, and racing.

He was an active member of several churches including Middle River Baptist, Fairhope Community, and Faith Community, and volunteered at New Life Bible Camp for over 20 years.

Cummins is survived by his wife of 68 years; sons, Steven, Stanley, and Kelly; daughters, Lorraine and Amy; 10 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and countless family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his brothers, Edwin, Homer, James, Blair, and Clarence; sisters, Joanne, Ruth, and Sara; and son-in-law, Dale.