Dr. James A. Cannon passed away on May 2, 2020 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport, Conn. He was 86.
Born in the Bronx on August 2, 1933, he was the son of Frances and Peter Cannon, both of whom had immigrated from Fanad, County Donegal, Ireland. The oldest of five, Jimmy, as he was known, grew up on Tiffany Street in the Bronx and attended St. Athanasius grade school, and Cathedral and Cardinal Hayes high schools. Upon graduation from Cardinal Hayes in 1951, he served in the U.S. Navy for four years.
After his military service, he enrolled at Fordham University where he developed a keen interest in Physics. He went on to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. from Fordham University. He worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories before becoming a tenured professor at Pace University and faculty member at his alma mater, Fordham.
He met Monica Daly when she was sitting with his sister, Mary, on the stoop outside his parents’ apartment. Their courtship began when he took her to see the new Broadway show, “West Side Story”. They were married on June 30, 1962.
Jimmy and Monica Cannon raised five children. He was a loving, devoted husband and father, and a proud grandfather who enjoyed spending time with those he called “the dessert of life” — his 13 grandchildren. He told them stories about his life, those of their parents, and spoiled them whenever possible.
Dr. Cannon was an avid reader of history, theology, and Physics Today. He finished the New York Times crossword puzzle with astonishing speed every morning, needing only sporadic assistance from his children on pop culture. During the many years he lived in Rye, he regularly won the weekly quiz contest at Feinsod’s Hardware, ensuring that the family was never out of light bulbs (the prize).
Having grown up within walking distance of Yankee Stadium, he was a lifelong fan. As a child, he gained admission to Yankee games with money he earned gathering soda bottles. Jimmy Cannon unabashedly admitted to occasionally sneaking into the stadium with friends to watch a game. His many Yankee heroes included Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Phil Rizzuto. The Cannon family pets, Casey and Bucky, were named after Yankee greats Casey Stengel and Bucky Dent. For Jimmy Cannon, the first day of spring was Opening Day.
He remained close to his siblings throughout his life and was blessed to have lifelong friends in Jim Goulding, Jim Reidy, and Pete Keeley, whom he held close to his heart. There is no doubt he is enjoying time in heaven with his good friend Pete.
A devout Catholic, Mr. Cannon who lived a holy life and strived to be a humble servant of God, started his day by attending Mass. He found his study of Physics and his faith brought him closer to God and the beauty of the universe.
His family said, “We know he would see his passing on The Feast Day of St. Athanasius, the patron saint of his childhood parish, not as an accident, but as a sign of God’s hand in his life, and reassurance to all who loved him that one never dies alone with Christ.”
He is survived by his wife Monica and their children, Cathy Antunes (Jose) of Sarasota, Fla., Peter Cannon (Eileen) of Tuckahoe, N.Y., Mary Anne Furfaro (Peter) of Ridgefield, Conn., Jimmy Cannon (Susan) of Rye, N.Y., and Christine Murray (John) of Cornwall, N.Y. He is also survived by his four siblings, John Cannon of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., Mary Hanlon of Ridgewood, N. J., Andrew Cannon of Mclean, Va., and Eileen Lyons of Bronxville, N.Y.; as well as his thirteen grandchildren.
Donations in James Cannon’s memory may be made to CurePSP (www.psp.org).