Clarence John Cummings, known as “Big John” was born on January 5, 1942, the son of Robert Cummings and Pam Smith Cummings. He died on the morning of April 13, 2021 after a long illness. His long-time care-giver, Ben Heinlein, is making the arrangements.
Raised in Webb City, MO and Carrollton, MO, he was a star basketball player at the Carrollton High School. He attended the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO and graduated from Pittsburgh State University, Kansas. After working as a barge deckhand on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, he also worked as a bouncer at the Levee Bar. His height and size made him an intimidating physical presence which hid his deep sensitivity and kindness for anyone in trouble.
Early on, he had a passion for photography he also remained deeply interested in the history of the Southwest Missouri mining industry. He built his own home uniquely designed for his size and tastes and invested many hours in rehabilitating houses in his Westport neighborhood. Later on, he developed his artistic skills of turning metal salvage into creative figures. Many of his interesting pieces are in Kansas City and around the country.
His longest career of almost 30 years was as salesman for Knopke Brothers Contractor Supply where he faithfully served customers including General Motors and Ford as well as in Saudi Arabia. He took great pride in his knowledge of equipment and parts and many of his customers became lifelong friends. After retiring, he worked for the Airgas company serving many of the same customers.
He enjoyed helping not only his customers but also his neighbors and a host of friends. Having a large and caring heart, John made an impact on everyone he met. Neighbors talk about how he would shovel the entire block after a big snowstorm, or do repairs for those who could not afford or were not able to do them. His generosity will be gratefully remembered by many people, and he has left a large and positive impact on the Kansas City which he loved.
John is survived by one brother, The Rev. Dr. Sudduth Rea Cummings and his wife, Charlotte, of Tallahassee, FL.
A visitation will be held on Wednesday April 21st from 5-7pm at Signature Funerals, 406 E. Bannister Rd. Kansas City, MO 64131, Ste D. In lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions may be made to The Children’s SPOT at St. Lukes Hospital.