In Memoriam

Stanley Shmishkiss '40
He devoted his life to finding a cure.

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Stanley Shmishkiss '40 was hesitant at first when the publisher of the Lynn Daily Item called in 1955 to ask him to chair the local fundraising effort for the American Cancer Society. But as the owner of a real estate and insurance agency in Lynn, Mass., he knew the importance of good publicity. "If you were in business, you didn't say no to the publisher of the local newspaper," says his son, Richard '68. And so he said yes--the start of what became a lifelong dedication to the cause of finding a cure.

Shmishkiss, who died on Jan. 22 at age 93 of complications from Alzheimer's, volunteered with the society until he was 88, rising from local fundraiser to chair of the national board. In 1992, he helped establish the American Cancer Society Foundation, and in 1998, he was honored for 43 years of service. Today his portrait hangs in the society's Atlanta headquarters.

Shmishkiss went from knocking on doors for donations to soliciting millions from wealthy philanthropists. He met famous people like Bill Clinton and Katie Couric, and he traveled abroad well into his 80s, raising money and organizing cancer awareness programs. He never accepted payment for his services.

After graduating from UNH, Shmishkiss served six years in the Army and then went on to earn an MBA from Boston University in 1954. He and his former wife, Pearl Bernfeld Shmishkiss, were married 40 years and in addition to Richard, also raised a daughter, Joan.

A visitor to Stinson Lake in Rumney, N.H., throughout his life, Shmishkiss ran the lakeside Hawthorne Lodge from 1959 to 1975. At the family's summer cottage nearby, he took a daily 5-mile run, often accompanied by his granddaughter, Laura Shmishkiss. He would return home to whip up his famous blueberry pancakes and iced tea with orange juice, lemon, and mint. "Grandpa was a wonderful cook," she says, remembering that he charmed guests with his gourmet feasts and accordion playing.

A loyal supporter of UNH, Shmishkiss received the Alumni Meritorious Service Award in 1957. He was a big fan of UNH hockey games, Homecoming chicken barbeques, and UNH Magazine. Late in life, when he was taken outside in his wheelchair, he insisted on wearing his UNH cap.

Over the years, Shmishkiss volunteered with many organizations, but his heart belonged to finding a cure for cancer. "I gave a lot of my life to that effort," he told a reporter for the Jewish Journal in 2008, "which I will never regret."

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