Edith Cunnane, who founded the homeless services organization St. Patrick Center, died Jan. 3. She was 76.
In 1983, she worked with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Catholic Charities of St. Louis and Monsignor Robert Slattery, to found the nonprofit inside what had been St. Patrick School, at Sixth and Biddle streets. She served a decade as the agency’s first executive director.
With her oversight, St. Patrick Center opened the nation’s first behavioral health day-treatment program, the Shamrock Club, and launched McMurphy’s Grill, later McMurphy’s Café, a restaurant that provided job training for agency clients. In all, Cunnane dedicated 37 years to St. Patrick Center, where she expanded programming to include housing assistance, employment services and life skills training, agency officials said.
Cunnane held a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Immaculata University in Philadelphia, and worked as a teacher and basketball coach. She later earned a master’s degree in counseling from Webster University and worked as a substance abuse counselor.
She had also worked for then Missouri Rep. Jim Talent and served as a member of the St. Louis County Council. Board positions she held included the St. Louis County Library, and the Today and Tomorrow Education Foundation. She was instrumental in support of the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation during our formative years.
Among the accolades she received were the United Nations Human Rights Award (1986), Thousand Points of Light Award (1991), Leadership St. Louis’ Community Leader Award (1991), United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Volunteer of the Year (1992), The Archdiocese of St. Louis’ Order of St. Louis King (1992), and an honorary doctor of humane letters from the University of Missouri — St. Louis (1994).