Benjamin Sheffield Cutler died May 2nd after a brief battle with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and ultimately acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
Born in New Rochelle, NY, Ben (Sheff) grew up in Athens, Ohio, where he loved to hike, seek out rattle snakes, and especially watch storms – the more violent the better – from the roof of the house!
After 3 years of high school he entered Oberlin College at age 16, where he pursued his great love of composing classical music. He further pursued this passion by obtaining a master’s degree in fine arts from Brandeis. During this time, he met Ernestine Botti, the love of his life, while she was living in Boston and working at MGH.
He served in the US Army where based on his 20/10 vision he was trained as a sharpshooter. Though he never fought in battle he remained in the Army Reserves for several years.
After marrying Ernestine, he entered the Wharton School, where he earned an MBA. After school, they returned to Ernestine’s family home in Somerville, NJ, where they raised their five children. He was an ever patient and loving father. Ben’s complete devotion to his wife and children was by far the most important aspect of his life.
An avid bridge player, he and his wife played bridge in clubs and with friends, taught bridge lessons, and traveled extensively to play in bridge tournaments. Both he and Ernestine welcomed the availability of online bridge, so they could play even more.
His passion for classical music, sometimes eclectic, was an anchor for his whole life. An accomplished pianist he loved playing, listening to, and writing music, and attending the symphony in New York. Even on his last day, a glow emanated from his face when he spoke with friends about music.
One of his greatest loves was history, including the genealogy of his own family, which he meticulously researched over many years, contributing his findings to the archives of the Stonington (Connecticut) Historical Society and various libraries. Some of his favorite discoveries centered on the long lineage of ancestors named Benjamin Cutler, many of whom served as sea captains and traveled the world, including to China and one of the first voyages to Antarctica, and that he was a descendent of Mayflower passenger John Alden.
An active member of the Immaculate Conception Church community, he served as an Usher for 15 years.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Ernestine (Botti) Cutler, his children Benjamin F. Cutler (wife Satomi) of Seattle, WA, Christopher E. Cutler of New York, NY, Lucy Cutler Cook (husband Steven) of Medford Lakes, NJ, and Mary Cutler Drummond (husband Hugh) of Winchester, MA. He was a playful and loving grandfather to Holly, Grace, John, and Benjamin Stern; Elise, Brendan, and Clara Drummond; and Ariana Cutler. He is also survived by his sister, Nancy Hamer of Oakdale, CA, as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Visiting hours will be held on Thursday, May 4th, from 5-8 pm, at the Cusick Funeral Home in Somerville, NJ. The Mass of Christian Burial will be on Friday, May 5th at 11:30 am at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, also in Somerville.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (lls.org) or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan.org).