January 27, 1932 - November 13, 2018
Born in Cincinatti, Ohio
Resided in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI
Nena was born on January 27, 1932 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest child of Pauline P. Cunningham and Kenneth W. Cunningham, whose ancestral home was in Beaumont, Texas but who later settled with their family in Grosse Pointe. Nena married the love of her life, William Dupont Dahling, on July 23, 1955. Nena and Bill, who predeceased her, had three sons: William D. Dahling, Jr., Richard P. Dahling and Peter W. Dahling; and they both warmly welcomed to the family their sons’ spouses when Bill married Kimberly J. Devlin, Dick married Nancy L. Sanborn and Pete married Caroline B. Davis. More recent years brought Nena the joys of Pete and Caroline’s son John Davis Dahling, particularly during visits in California and Michigan.
Nena graduated from Grosse Pointe Country Day School in 1950 and remained an active alumna of the School’s successor institution, University Liggett School. In 1954, Nena received a BA in Economics from Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut, where she made many lifelong friends. Nena returned to Grosse Pointe after college to marry Bill and raise her family, residing in the family home on Hawthorne Road for over 60 years.
As an active member of the community, Nena cherished her decades-long associations with the Michigan chapter of The Colonial Dames of America and the Mary Thompson Foundation, including her service as president of both organizations. Her love of American history and strong belief that it should be a foundational part of school curricula motivated her to support the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Other organizations that were important to her include the Grosse Pointe Shores Improvement Foundation, the Grosse Pointe Memorial Church, University Liggett School, the Neighborhood Club and Tau Beta Association.
Nena loved horses all her life. As a child, she competed in equestrian events and rode at dude ranches in Wyoming and Arizona. As an adult, she watched the thoroughbreds race at Saratoga Springs, New York and toured its Racing Museum during numerous visits. Her one-time trip to Santa Anita, California for her 70th birthday, accompanied by her family, featured an early morning visit to the backside and stables at the track and, later that day, the winner’s circle for a race named in her honor - the Princess Nena Bluebonnet.
Influenced by her close relationship with her mother, Nena remained fond of her family’s historical ties to Southeastern Texas, and this heritage has inspired her sons and nephews to explore different parts of this vast state. Nena remained close to many of her nieces and nephews, to whom she offered support and guidance over the years.
The combination of Nena’s generosity, warm understanding and firm resolve influenced countless others in her lifetime. From her conversations with people in all walks of life, she nurtured a range of relationships that gave her strength and shaped her belief that honesty, integrity and the golden rule are values that serve as the bedrock of who we are as family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and citizens of a country she loved dearly.
A memorial service will be held at the Grosse Ponte Memorial Church, 16 Lakeshore Road, Grosse Pointe Farms on Saturday December 8th at 11:00 AM. A.H. Peters is assisting the family; interment (private) will be at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (Dumbarton House, 2715 Q Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007-3041); University Liggett School (1045 Cook Road, Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan 48236); The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (Post Office Box 1776, Supporter #922624, Williamsburg, Virginia 23187); and Grosse Pointe Memorial Church (16 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan 48236).
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Grosse Pointe Farms, MI US 48236