Alicia (Licia) Kuenning

KuenningAlicia (Licia) Kuenning, 81, on August 10, 2022, at Woodlawn Nursing Home in Skowhegan, Maine, where she had been treated for nearly seven weeks following a sudden downturn in her long-declining health. Alicia was born Alice Cuneo Bieberman on June 27, 1941, the daughter of Jesse and Inez Bieberman.

Licia was marked by single-minded devotion to what she believed in, 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 University graduation. After leaving psychedelics behind in 1971, she would spend her remaining years devoted to preserving and understanding Quaker history.

Licia began searching for a community in the early Quaker style, one based on following Christ 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, which was an early name for the Religious Society of Friends.

In the early 1990s, Licia and Larry founded Quaker Heritage Press (QHP), a project dedicated to reprinting old Quaker writings. Licia was QHP’s chief editor and typist, while Larry was responsible for its website, where most of its printed texts can be found online at Licia’s 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. She wrote two essays, “Publishing Old Quaker Texts” and “Understanding the Quaker Past.”

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 declared that 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, with most of the customers being students. She lived in the Boston, Mass. and Philadelphia, Pa. areas before moving to Maine in 2005.

Licia had no children. She was predeceased by her parents, Jesse Bieberman and Inez Bieberman; two sisters, Jane DeNuzzo and Judith Bieberman; and one niece, Kim DeNuzzo Richardson.

Licia is survived by her husband, Larry Kuenning; a sister-in-law, Andrea Kuenning (Dan Leisen); six nieces and nephews; and twelve grandnieces and grandnephews.

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