Thomas Cunningham, 77, died November 27, 2019, surrounded by his family, after a long courageous battle with cancer. Tom was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1942 to Walter and Helen Cunningham. They moved soon after his birth to Steubenville, Ohio where Tom and his siblings were raised. Tom especially enjoyed his time playing football for Steubenville Big Red High School.
Tom received an appointment to West Point, the United States Military Academy, following high school and made lifelong friends while he was a cadet there. Reunions with fellow West Point football players were a favorite experience each year up until his death.
He graduated from West Point in 1964 and began an illustrious 26-year career in the military. During his career, he received a Masters of Science in Geophysics from the University of Pittsburgh. He also served as an instructor at West Point and then returned years later as the Director of Operations of the Academy. He later held the role of Commandant of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School.
After retiring as a colonel from the Army, Tom served as President of Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia for seven years and then worked as a training consultant for a few years in the textile industry. Later, he was chief of Protocol at Fort Bragg until he took his final job at the Chamber of Commerce in Wilmington, N.C., where he and his wife, Mary Jane, finally settled into retirement.
Tom is survived by his high school sweetheart and wife of 55 years, Mary Jane (Arthurs) Cunningham; son, Patrick (Becky) Cunningham of Clayton, N.C.; daughter, Kerry (Shawn) Fitzgerald of Wilmington, N.C.; son, Daniel Cunningham of Riegelwood, N.C.; son Michael (Cheryl) Cunningham of Charlotte, N.C.; sister, Patricia (Joe) McDaniel of Danville, Virginia; sister-in-law, Sheri Arthurs of Wilmington, N.C.; 11 loving grandchildren; and a host of dear nieces, nephews, in-laws, and longtime friends around the country.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Helen Cunningham; his brothers, David and Johnny Cunningham; his beautiful first born daughter, Kelly Marquis (Tony Merritt), of Wilmington, N.C.
Tom was a man of great character and integrity. He was well respected and loved by most anyone who crossed his path. His life was an honorable expression of his love for Jesus, his devotion to this wife and children, and service to his country.
Memorial services will be held at Port City Community Church, 250 Vision Drive in Wilmington on Monday, December 2, 2019 at 1 p.m. with a reception following. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Samaritan Children’s Fund (Tom’s memorial page: https//sampur.se/34A0t1X). Condolences to the family at www.andrewsmortuary.com.