Glenn Cuyjet, Beloved Southampton Therapist, Died at 71

Glenn Cuyjet
Glenn Cuyjet

Glenn S. Cuyjet saw the light in people, but it was his light that drew people to him, both for help in his work as a psychotherapist and for friendship and mentorship.

Cuyjet suddenly collapsed in his home on the Shinnecock Indian Nation on October 16, 2022, and died at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital. He was 71.

On his most recent birthday, this past September, he wrote, “May my love shine on all those I am connected with in this journey.” As someone who was deeply connected to the natural world and the feelings of others, his journey has touched many.

Glenn Sebastian Cuyjet was born on September 19, 1951, in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Dr. Aloysius Cuyjet, a practicing dentist, and Barbara L. Baxter Cuyjet. Both of his parents had Native American and African-American heritage. They divorced when he was five years old.

The youngest of three boys, he grew up between Bayonne, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having been raised in the Catholic Church, he graduated from Marist High School, an all-boys Catholic prep school in Bayonne.

However, Sag Harbor Hills in the SANS communities of Sag Harbor was where Cuyjet felt truly most at home, spending his summers in his family’s home there, which many friends and neighbors remember as “the pink house.” His parents were among the original homeowners in Sag Harbor Hills in the 1950s.

Cuyjet and his brothers spent whole summers going to the beach, boating, fishing, playing and living amongst friends. Popular, handsome, “extraordinarily cool” and a little mysterious is how his best friend Donnamarie Barnes remembers him as a teenager on the beach. She mistook his shyness for aloofness at first, but they grew close after deep talks of shared interests and time together. It was in that Sag Harbor community that he felt the most grounded, she says.

After graduating with a double major in political science and African-American studies from Brandeis University in 1974, Cuyjet moved back to Sag Harbor to live full time in the pink house and started his work in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), an anti-poverty program designed to provide needed resources to nonprofit organizations and public agencies, assisting local communities, conceived as a domestic version of the Peace Corps.

At the time, Bridgehampton was a designated poverty area and he took a placement at the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center, which was originally established to help care for children following a fire in a migrant workers’ camp that had killed two children in 1949.

“What drew him back to be in Sag Harbor as an adult — and as a similar path of life of me coming to Shinnecock — we both came out to the East End in a similar way of being grounded,” his wife, Roberta O. Hunter, explained.

Forty-seven years ago, Hunter met Cuyjet through her high school best friend, Susan B. Landau (who produced Cool Runnings among many other films), who had attended Brandeis with Cuyjet.

At the time, Hunter was living in Sag Harbor as well, in her uncle’s house.  “Cuyjet came on a rainy night and never left,” she remembers. They were “crazy in love,” though it was put to the test in some of their first homes, including the pink house with no heat in the winter, and another Sag Harbor Hills place above a garage.

Cuyjet and Hunter married on September 9, 1978, in the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church, the oldest native American mission in the United States.

Soon after, Cuyjet started his graduate work in community psychological counseling at Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus. After he earned a Master of Science, he completed post-graduate work at Yale University’s Department of Psychology in Youth Crisis Counseling and Community Outreach Counseling.

He then took a position as a counselor and assistant director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) at Old Westbury. He also worked part-time for many years as the director of the Sag Harbor Youth Center.

“Cuyjet really had a gift of seeing people in a special way,” his wife said. “He moved, with his experience in academia and as a counselor and working with young people, to opening up a private practice.”

He started a partnership, Ruby & Cuyjet Associates, with Ellen Ruby on Windmill Lane in Southampton Village. When the partnership dissolved, it became Cuyjet Associates.

For at least the past seven years, his office has been located on Station Road in Water Mill, where he offered psychotherapy, individual, couple and family counseling and child guidance. He held certifications with the National Board for Certified Counselors, the International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors and the American Counseling Association.

He had a profound impact on the greater Southampton community as a therapist, counselor and mentor. “His practice was so diverse, there are quite honestly very few families who have not had Glenn Cuyjet in their lives,” his wife says, adding that he was the only man of color practicing as a therapist on the East End.

Cuyjet came from a family of professionals. When his father retired, he was the oldest practicing dentist in the State of New York. His mother was an administrator of the New York State Human Rights Commission.

His oldest brother, Dr. Aloysius Baxter Cuyjet, is a retired cardiologist, while his brother Gregory Greatfield Cuyjet, an attorney, is recently retired from the U.S. Army. Cuyjet’s mother’s partner of 30 years was the late Honorable Robert J. Mangum, a New York State Court of Claims Judge, whom Cuyjet considered his stepfather.

Cuyjet was proud of his Native American heritage: Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape from the Delaware-Southern New Jersey region on his father’s side and the Powhatan Indians of Virginia on his mother’s.

Cuyjet and Hunter moved to the Shinnecock Indian Nation after they were married. He built their home himself, a timber-peg construction both traditional and ahead of its time in a way, with the use of natural light and passive solar and a wood-burning stove still in use 40 years later.

They appreciated the skills of many of the men of the Shinnecock tribe who assisted in building the home, and Hunter remembers that it was the beginning of her husband’s bonding with the men of the community.

“It was in Cuyjet’s heart to be here in Shinnecock,” his wife says. “He had such a feeling of relationship with the natural world,” she said.

Cuyjet was always athletic. In high school, he played football and threw the discus in track and field.

In college, he developed an interest in martial arts. He studied it seriously, even traveling to China. He achieved the high level of Black Belt, but he never led with that credential. For him, it was the discipline that drew him to the practice. He offered instruction on the East End at “The Center.”

As he got older, he transitioned to Tai Chi. The breathwork was of utmost importance to him. His family recalls how he was always talking about his “chi” and how “his chi would be popping.”

Though Cuyjet was not part of any defined organized religion, he was extremely spiritual. Knowledgeable and well-versed in crystals and stones, he was known to always carry them in his pocket. Highly intuitive and perceptive, whenever he sensed someone could benefit from their energy, he would hand them off with instructions.

“There was a lot of magic in him for sure,” his wife says.

The energy from water was also significant to him and he loved being at the beach, whether it was swimming or fishing. He was also a naturalist, taking part in sweat lodges and other traditional Native ceremonies, as well as being an herbalist and gardener.

He was an avid reader, always with a book in hand. He stayed up to date on the works of James Patterson, Daniel Silva and Dan Brown, and enjoyed historical fiction. He enjoyed passing books along to others and often chatted with his son-in-law about the Art of War.

He also enjoyed international travel, including China, Australia, Sicily, Scotland, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Tibet.

Cuyjet is survived by his wife of 44 years, Roberta O. Hunter, who said he was happiest when he was with their children, Sienna Neche Hunter-Cuyjet and her husband, Andrew Kessler-Cleary, of Holliston, MA; Sequoyah Nadia Hunter-Cuyjet of Philadelphia; and Sebastian Nibaw Hunter-Cuyjet of Detroit, Michigan.

He is also survived by two grandchildren, Susan Rose Cuyjet-Cleary and Octavia Pearl Cuyjet-Cleary.

His brothers and their wives also survive him: Dr. Aloysius B. Cuyjet of Sag Harbor and Dr. Beverly Granger, and Gregory Greatfield Cuyjet, Esq., and Valerie Edgecomb of Sag Harbor.

His sister-in-law Renee C. Hunter of New York City, brother-in-law Wickham J. Hunter of Shinnecock, and sister-in-law Linda Franklin of Shinnecock also survive.

Cuyjet is also survived by four nephews; four nieces; 10 grandnephews; four grandnieces; one great grandnephew; five great grandnieces; many cousins and close friends.

“He was really a magnet and drew the children in this community to him,” his wife says.

He had many godchildren, including his niece Alyssa Barbara Cuyjet, Rebekah Wise, and Alex Barnes, for whom he was a father figure and mentor.

When his godson Ginew Benton went through the Young Man ceremony, Cuyjet was the chosen sponsor. Dr. Grace Bulltail became Cuyjet’s adopted daughter.

In addition to his parents, Cuyjet was predeceased by his father-in-law, Lubin W. Hunter, whom he called “his Buddha,” who died at 104 in January 2022. His mother-in-law, Elaine Bennett Hunter, brother-in-law Michael (Tree) Hunter and sister-in-law Wanda Eleanor Hunter, also died before him, as did a godson, Darrick Smith.

Visiting hours will be held at Brockett Funeral Home at 203 Hampton Road in Southampton on Thursday, October 20, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Viewing will also be held at Southampton First Presbyterian Church at 2 S. Main Street in the village on Saturday, October 22, from 12 to 1 p.m., before the funeral service at 1 p.m. Interment will follow at the Shinnecock Cemetery.

The family has requested that donations in Cuyjet’s memory be made either to Seafield Resources, Inc., 7 Seafield Lane, Westhampton Beach, NY 11978, or the Quogue Wildlife Refuge (quoguewildliferefuge.org), P.O. Box 492, Quogue, NY 11959.

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