Richard E. Cannon, 83, died peacefully Sunday, Nov. 26 at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital in St. Charles of complications due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
In all things, Dick was defined by his strong sense of duty. He was devoted to his family, his wife of 58 years, Jane (nee Shannon), daughters Angie (Ed Hatcher), Carol (Jay Gershen) and Erin (Jean-Louis Chave). He was preceded in death by two beloved children, Cindy Cannon Brooks (John Brooks) and Robert Cannon. He adored his grandchildren: Danny, Mackenzie, Carrie, Peter, Mark, Robby, Louis and Emma.
Dick practiced medicine for 56 years, serving as a Navy doctor, a pediatrician and then as an allergist for the past 38 years in St. Charles. He was so committed to his patients that he was still working full-time at age 82. He even worked for six more months after his devastating ALS diagnosis in January, using a cane and then a walker to get around his office. After Dick retired June 30, hundreds of patients sent him cards thanking him for his kindness and exceptional care, describing how he had saved their lives and had enabled them to breathe again.
Dick loved wine, gardening, puttering at his workbench, collecting seashells on Captiva Island, vintage James Bond movies, symphony concerts, barbecuing, football and lunch at Cardwell’s at the Plaza in St. Louis every Wednesday. He loved traveling to visit his daughters in France, Colorado and on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.
Dick was born on Aug. 19, 1934, in Hollywood, Calif., the only child of the late Edwin Winter Cannon and the late Lucille Cannon (nee Pataska). He graduated from Loyola University in Los Angeles and from St. Louis University Medical School. A Navy lieutenant commander, he proudly served as the doctor aboard the U.S.S. Staten Island AGB-5, an icebreaker that traveled to Antarctica in 1962-63 as part of Operation Deep Freeze. Its mission was to clear a path into McMurdo Sound to resupply the Navy’s air base there, carry supplies to another lonely station and engage in scientific research. Dick loved showing his slides of ship life, seals and penguins and beautiful icescapes.
Over the past 11 months, ALS robbed Dick of the ability to speak, swallow, walk, and eventually to breathe. Despite those challenges, he never lost his sense of humor and inspired so many people by dealing courageously with this cruel disease through his strong faith. He and his family also were grateful for the outstanding medical care from the ALS team at the VA Medical Center John Cochran Division in St. Louis, Dr. Alex Schuetz, the staff at St. Joseph Hospital and Heartland Hospice nurses.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Academy of the Sacred Heart School, 619 N. Second St., St. Charles, MO 63301 or to the ALS Association, St. Louis Regional Chapter, 2258 Weldon Parkway, St. Louis, MO 63146.