Donald L. Cuneo

LAKEVILLE — Donald L. Cuneo, 74, of Lime Rock Road and formerly of New York City, passed away peacefully at home on Aug. 31, 2018, surrounded by his loving family, after a fierce, but short, battle with cancer.

Don was born on April 19, 1944, in Alameda, Calif., and grew up in Scarsdale, N.Y.  He graduated from Lehigh University in 1966 with a B.A. in English Literature. At Lehigh, he was chosen to represent the university as a participant in Operation Crossroads Africa and built a community center and hospital clinic for the residents of a rural town in Togo. 

After college, Don attended Columbia University, was selected as one of 50 graduate students for the International Fellows Program and earned his J.D. and M.B.A. in 1970. While attending Columbia, he lived as a resident of International House (I-House), a nonprofit organization established in 1924 with a goal to foster cross-cultural understanding. There, Don founded the I-House Harlem Tutorial Program, and served as resident advisor. In 1971, he joined the international law firm Shearman & Sterling, where he would remain for 22 years, practicing principally in the areas of litigation, international trade and arbitration, and intellectual property disputes. At Shearman & Sterling, Don was a partner for 14 years, and worked in their offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Paris and Algiers, Algeria.

Don was elected to the I-House Board of Trustees in 1977; he served as secretary of the board, during which time he was instrumental in the purchase of I-House North, increasing the size of the community by 50 percent. While on the board, he also provided pro bono legal counsel and led the New York Area Alumni Council. In 1993, Don was unanimously elected president and CEO of I-House, the first alumnus to hold the position. Don had a distinguished, 20-year career at I-House, where he lived with his wife, Bonnie, and their two children, Kristen and Lane. During his tenure, he significantly strengthened the institution’s programming, leadership training, diversity, and increased the endowment five-fold. Among his many other notable accomplishments were the creation of the International Fellowship Program, the expansion of the Women’s International Leadership Program and the formation of International Houses Worldwide. 

One of Don’s fondest memories at I-House was welcoming Nelson Mandela to I-House as a guest speaker, and into his home, as well as former Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Madeline Albright. 

While living in New York City, Don was also member of the Council on Foreign Relations and served two terms as president of the Morningside Area Alliance, and as president of the “Chiefs,” an organization of CEOs in the fields of international education and policy.

After retiring from I-House in 2013, Don and Bonnie moved permanently into their Lakeville home, where he became an active participant in the local community. Don joined the board of Northwest Connect, a local nonprofit aiming to provide regional fiber optic networks to the area. He was also elected to serve on the Zoning Board of Appeals of Salisbury and worked with the local refugee committee to assist a family from Syria.

Don was an active outdoor and sports enthusiast, and an avid reader. He loved to swim at The Hotchkiss School, hike, ski, ice skate and was a frequent attendee at the Salisbury Forums to listen to guest speakers. 

He also enjoyed watching sports on TV — especially, the N.Y. Giants and N.Y. Yankees — and hosting Super Bowl parties with his many friends in the area. When his grandchildren visited, which was quite often, Don spent countless hours catching frogs with his grandson, Landon, and dancing around the gardens with his granddaughter, Skylar. 

He is survived by his adoring wife of 37 years, Bonnie; his daughter, Kristen Drake; his son-in-law, Brian; his two grandchildren, Landon and Skylar Drake; and his son, Lane Cuneo. He is also survived by his brother, John Cuneo of Massachusetts; and his sister, Jean Zaccheo of New Jersey; and several nephews, nieces, cousins, extended family and devoted friends.

A memorial service will be held at International House in New York City on Friday, Oct. 12.