Monday, September 27, 2021


John Christopher Cullen III


John Christopher Cullen III, 79, beloved partner of Valerie Martin, passed away April 15, 2 after a brief illness at Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut. He was born April 1, 1942, at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, to John Christopher Cullen, Jr., and Yvonne Marie Monju, both of that city. He attended parochial schools in New Orleans and received a bachelor of arts from Loyola University, a master of arts from the University of Virginia, and a PhD in English Literature, with a specialization in classics, from the University of Texas at Austin. He traveled widely in Europe, acquiring fluency in German, Italian, Spanish, and French.

In 1987, he settled in Montague, Massachusetts, and began his career as a literary translator. Over the next 30 years, he translated more than 50 novels and non-fiction works; three of these were made into major films; one was awarded the French American Prize. In 2006, he had two novels on the short list of 10 for the Dublin Prize, the most coveted and distinguished prize in literature. In 2018, after extended residencies in Rome, Italy and Millbrook, New York, he and Valerie moved to Madison.

John’s intellectual range and passion for languages, combined with the New Orleanian’s natural irony and sociability, endeared him to all who enjoyed even briefly the pleasure of his company. He was kind-hearted and sharp-witted, with a great force of personality, frankness, honesty, and charm. He always meant what he said.

John is predeceased by his brother Paul Michael Cullen and is survived by his partner Valerie Martin; her daughter Adrienne Martin; his brother Terrence (Bernie) Cullen; sister Kathleen (Steve) Abernathy; nieces and nephews Joseph (Wendy) Williamson, R. Kevin (Kim) Williamson, Bridgette (Kerry) Williamson, Stephen (Jen) Abernathy, Aimee (Gary) Mesa, Robert (Lenna) Abernathy, Mary Frances (Nelson) Nevot, and Paul Michael Cullen; and his loving extended family.

For his online obituary, please visit

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