Alicia Kuenning (1941-2022)

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Alicia Kuenning

FARMINGTON – Alicia Kuenning of Farmington, age 81, died the morning of Aug. 10, 2022 at Woodlawn Nursing Home in Skowhegan, where she had been treated for nearly seven weeks following a sudden downturn in her long-declining health.

She was born Alice Cuneo Bieberman in 1941, the daughter of Jesse and Inez Bieberman. When young, she took the nickname Lisa and later acquired the last name Kuenning following her 1973 marriage to Lawrence (Larry) Kuenning. In 1988, through a legal name change, she became Alicia Kuenning with the nickname Licia.

Licia was always marked by single-minded devotion to what she believed in, even though her beliefs changed over the course of her life. She spent nine years in the psychedelic movement (beginning a year before her 1963 Harvard graduation). She soon broke with the movement’s leaders in order to take what she called “a Western approach to the religious use of psychochemicals.” Her spiritual experiences during these years led her to identify as a Quaker and to make an ultimate commitment to Christ – permanent changes that long outlasted her giving up drug use in 1971. Under the influence of a scholar of early Quakerism, she began searching for a community in the early Quaker style, based on following Christ together through hearing his voice within. When she met Larry Kuenning, who was on a similar quest, the two of them attempted to start such a community in 1972 and were married under its care in 1973. The group, first called Publishers of Truth, later changed its name to Friends of Truth. It underwent various internal changes in response to encounters with other partially similar groups. Larry’s parents were members until their deaths in 1986 and 2015.

After learning to use a computer in the early 1990s Licia began Quaker Heritage Press, a project of reprinting old Quaker writings that had gone out of print. She was QHP’s chief editor and typist, while Larry was responsible for its website, where most of its printed texts can be found online. Her work included the first complete collection of the works of James Nayler (1618-1660) in four volumes, edited with careful reference to the early printings.

At times, Licia’s sense of spiritual guidance prompted her to give out prophetic predictions which she took to be from Christ, though her community never agreed with these messages. In some cases, she later accepted that they were products of mania in accord with a medical diagnosis. The last and most widely known of her prophetic messages began in 2005, announcing that Farmington, Maine, would become the New Jerusalem. When this failed to occur on the predicted date in 2006, she entered a period of struggle, recognizing that something was wrong but this time not blaming it on mania, saying only that she should not have named a date. After ignoring the subject for a long time, in her last years she repeatedly reread her writings of 2005-06, but never said she had found any answers.

Licia’s other loves included cats, mystery stories, and the history of abandoned railroads. Her work for income consisted mostly of self-employed typing, most of the customers being students. She lived in the Boston and Philadelphia areas before moving to Maine in 2005.

Licia had no children. She is survived by her husband, Larry; her sister-in-law, Andrea Kuenning (Dan Leisen); nephews and nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces on both sides.

She was predeceased by her parents; her sisters, Jane DeNuzzo and Judith Bieberman; and her niece, Kim DeNuzzo Richardson.

Arrangements are under the care and direction of Dan & Scott’s Cremation & Funeral Service, 488 Farmington Falls Rd., Farmington, ME 04938.

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