Swan Funeral Home


John Christopher Cullen

April 1, 1942April 15, 2021

John Christopher Cullen III, 79, beloved partner of Valerie Martin, passed away on April 15, 2021 after a brief illness at Yale New Haven hospital in Connecticut.  He was born on April 1, 1942 at the Hotel Dieu Hospital in New Orleans to John Christopher Cullen Jr. and Yvonne Marie Monju, both of that city.  He attended parochial schools in New Orleans; received a BA from Loyola University; an MA 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 ten for the Dublin Prize, the most coveted and distinguishedprize in literature. In 2018, after extended residencies in Rome,Italy and Millbrook, New York, he and Valerie moved to Madison, Connecticut. 

  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, Paul Michael Cullen, and his loving extended family. 


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


John Christopher Cullen

have a memory or condolence to add?

Judith Dollenmayer

May 5, 2021

John was a "gentil perfet knicht" to Valerie, as well as a wonderfully generous and conversant man whom we enjoyed at too few meetings over the past decade. Deep sympathy to Valerie.

Bruce Ware Allen

May 1, 2021

Too soon. After many short conversations over the mailbox and via email, my wife and I were looking forward to series of longer, proper sit-downs post-covid. I can only imagine how much harder it is for those who were fortunately to have known him better.

Amanda McPherson

April 27, 2021

I'm so saddened to hear of John's passing. His intellect and wit were astounding. I have many lovely memories of John, laughing and marveling at the range of his knowledge and interests. I'm so glad I got to know him and wish comfort to Valerie.

Paul Monju

April 19, 2021

Always enjoyed visits with cousin Johnny, be it here in Lafayette or in New Orleans. He was first and foremost a Southern gentleman, one instantly liked him. His intelligence and wit were sharp and wicked, second to none. His personality, warm and friendly, his laugh, infectious. I shall miss him.
Rest In Peace, Johnny.

Nancy Dixon

April 19, 2021

I was so sorry to hear this news. I knew John from the Krewe of Clones days, so smart, funny. Love to you, Valerie.
Nancy Dixon

George Wogan

April 18, 2021

I knew John while he was living in New Orleans in the 80’s and corresponded with him briefly after he moved to New York. I followed his success through the years. My personal memory of him was, other than his intellect, his wit, his humility and kindness to everyone he met.

Chris Wiltz

April 18, 2021

So many great memories of being with John and Valerie. John could make me laugh like nobody else. We will all miss him dearly for his humor, his intelligence, his kindness--so many things; the world will be different without him, inferior. My heart is broken for Valerie. For all of us who knew him and loved him.

bob young

April 17, 2021

I have fond memories of Loyola years in ADG with John - recall his clever sense of humor. My condolences to Valerie and to his family.
Bob Young - Houston, tx.