I’m very sad to report the passing of Forrest Cummings, who I knew through his work at Jazz90.1, where he hosted the great show Jazz Ain’t Nothin’ But Soul. Forrest was one of those people who make the world a better place, and it was truly an honor to know him and work with him.
Forrest had a show on WRUR for decades, and when his time there ended, I was on the phone with him immediately, asking him to come to Jazz90.1 and work his magic. We met for lunch, and he agreed to make the move. Most of our volunteers and staff members already knew who Forrest was, and he was welcomed with open arms to our Sunday night lineup.
Even after I left the station, I’d see Forrest at Red Wings games (he was on the board of Rochester Community Baseball) and at the Rochester International Jazz Festival and other musical events. It was always a pleasure to see him — everyone always seemed to know him and respect him wherever he was.
My thoughts are with the Cummings family. We’ve lost one of the good guys, but Rochester is a better place because he was here.
Here’s the obituary from The Democrat & Chronicle:
Forrest Cummings, 56, dies
He worked to give back to Rochester and to help children
by Ernst Lamothe Jr.
(September 24, 2005) â€”
Forrest Cummings Jr. could have left Rochester for bigger cities and bigger opportunities. Instead, he spent his life giving back to the only city that mattered in his book.
Mr. Cummings, 56, died Thursday of a massive heart attack.
He worked more than 20 years as regional director of the state Division of Human Rights. In addition, he served on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club, Urban League, Baden Street Settlement and the Rochester Red Wings.
Brenda D. Lee saw every step of Mr. Cummings’ path from a young boy at Edison Technical and Industrial High School to the man who was well respected in the community.
“He was a person who had incredible discipline on one hand but could be very humorous on the other,” said Lee, a childhood friend. “The person you would see in a social setting was completely different than the person you would see as regional director.”
While his time was often spread thin, one area always had a priority on his schedule.
“He was absolutely passionate about making a difference in the lives of children,” said Lee. “Forrest was an incredible role model for everyone, especially young African-American males.”
Gary Larder, Red Wings president and CEO, said Mr. Cummings was the first board member to financially contribute to offering season tickets for the underprivileged.
“He brought a mature attitude and certainly a team spirit,” said Larder.
When Mr. Cummings died, he was spending time with Maurice Stone, 43, a Penfield man with a developmental disability whom he visited every Thursday. Friends say it was an example of the life Mr. Cummings led.
“Even though he was in a position where he dealt with judges, lawyers and politicians, he was very comfortable with everyday folks,” said the Rev. Lawrence Hargrave, acting dean of black church studies at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
“He could walk around the streets of Rochester and people would know him, and he could walk into the highest offices of the state and people would know him.”
Mr. Cummings hosted Jazz Ain’t Nothing but Soul for 26 years on WRUR-FM (88.5) Sunday evenings before moving to WGMC-FM (90.1) for the past two years.
He is survived by his wife, Juliette Rhodes-Cummings. Funeral arrangements are pending.