Community mourns Rindge man, who died of an overdose at 25

  • Bryan Cullinane of Rindge in happier times with his mother Sue Cullinane. Courtesy photo

  • A memorial table at the celebration of life for Bryan Cullinane, 25, of Rindge, shows his love for sports and his family. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • A memorial table at the celebration of life for Bryan Cullinane, 25, of Rindge, shows his love for sports and his family. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • A memorial table at the celebration of life for Bryan Cullinane, 25, of Rindge, shows his love for sports and his family. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/4/2019 3:25:16 PM

Bryan Cullinane was quick with a joke, a laugh, and wouldn’t have wanted to see his friends and family cry.

“He wouldn’t want us to grieve or be unhappy, that’s all I can say,” his mother, Susan Cullinane said, following a celebration of life for her son at the Jaffrey VFW on Friday night.

Cullinane’s friend, Jared Lafreniere, agreed with that sentiment while reading a letter he had written for Cullinane’s young son, Connor. 

“I do know if Bryan were here, he'd say ‘Let's not be so ridiculous, and stop being so sad.’ But your father brought so much joy to our hearts, so it's easier said than done,” Lafreniere said. 

Cullinane, 25, of Rindge, died on Oct. 26, of an overdose, after several years of struggling with opioid addiction.

Cullinane spoke with the Ledger-Transcript in 2014, for a three-part series detailing his early struggles with drug use, recent work with long-term rehabilitation and trying to stay clean.

Susan Cullinane said he continued that struggle every day. 

“Bryan fought every second of his life. He was an amazing young man,” she wrote in an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Monday. 

Cullinane and his family have become advocates for addiction awareness and treatment. Susan Cullinane said they will continue that effort. 

“Anyone who knows someone struggling needs to know where to turn. We need to talk about this more. No one should be ashamed,” she wrote. “People need to be educated more.”

“I wish I could give you reasons why. Sometimes the greater plan is too intolerable to understand,” Lafreniere said. “Why he lost this horrible battle says nothing about his character and the man he wanted to be. It says there are terrible things in this world, and we all have personal and spiritual warfare that we're up against.”

The essence of Cullinane’s character, family and friends said, was his passion.

The word cropped up again and again as they recounted memories, or simply stood up to say he was a good friend.

“It was very evident to me that Bryan put 100 percent into everything he did. and I think that's the way we're all designed by God, to put 100 percent into the things we're passionate about, and so, in my view, Bryan really seemed to live this out,” said Kenny Laughters, a pastor at Next Level Church in Peterborough, who got to know Cullinane over the summer when they played softball together.

Cullinane was passionate about sports, which he played avidly in high school and continued as an adult, particularly weightlifting and boxing, and recently, softball.

Fitness was an integral part of his life, friends said. Cullinane even dreamed of one day opening up his own gym.

“He had ambitions,” his friend, Karl Letourneau of Fitzwilliam said. “He definitely had a vision. He wasn’t done.”

A table at his celebration of life clearly marked that love for sports and fitness, decorated with his boxing gloves and protective helmet marked with Irish flags, photos of him playing basketball and football as a student, and weightlifting tank-tops. 

It was also covered with photographs of his family, his girlfriend Samantha Blood, and his son, Connor Cullinane. Because that’s the other thing he was passionate about – the people he loved.

“One thing about Bryan is, he loved so passionately. If you got to know Bryan and were allowed in his circle, he loved you so clearly,” Parker Ferrell of Keene, one of Cullinane’s close friends, said. 

Ferrell said Cullinane “lit up every room he walked into with energy”.

“He was a ride-or-die friend. He would give you the shirt off his back, and he had a heart of gold,” his friend Pete Deiana of Jaffrey said. 

Cullinane’s penchant for making people laugh started early, his uncle, Pete Cullinane of Limerick, Maine recalled. When Cullinane was young, on a ride to the store, he was told to stay in the car to watch the dog which had come along for the ride. Unpersuaded by this argument, he offered to pretend to be blind, so the dog could come in, too.

“He’d do anything to put a smile on your face,” his friend, Timmy Motuzas of Jaffrey said.

“He’d be the first to cheer you up and make you happy,” agreed Deiana.

Susan Cullinane said she and other members of Cullinane family will continue to be advocates for addiction awareness.

“Our family will continue to bring awareness to the struggles of addiction,” Susan Cullinane wrote. “We thank all of the community family and friends for their support during this difficult time. Bryan’s memories will live on in our hearts forever.”

If you are in need of addiction recovery services, a comprehensive list of local resources can be found on the Reality Check website or the Monadnock Voices for Prevention website at 

In lieu of flowers the family has asked that donations be made in Bryan's memory to Reality Check at, or mailed to 17 Turnpike Rd., Jaffrey.


Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT. 


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