Cover photo for John William Cunningham, Lt.Col.(ret.)'s Obituary
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1919 John William 2014

John William Cunningham, Lt.Col.(ret.)

November 23, 1919 — December 6, 2014

John W. Cunningham, 95, of Walters, OK Funeral services at First United Methodist Church, Walters, Wednesday, December 10 at 1:30 p.m., Rev. Paul Metcalfe and Rev. Brantley Tillery officiating. Burial in the Walters Cemetery under the direction of Hart-Wyatt Funeral Home in Walters. John William Cunningham, Lt. Col. USAF(ret.), was born to John T. and Mary L. (Westervelt) Cunningham on November 23, 1919 at Albany, Indiana and departed this life in Lawton, Oklahoma on December 6, 2014 at the age of 95 years and 13 days. While growing up in difficult times for our country, John attended Albany Public Schools. He landed his first job at age 12 by working in a grocery store after school. By age 14, he was employed by the local doctor and assumed the task of cleaning his office and accompanied him on house calls. From an early age, he learned the importance of helping his family. He grew up with three sisters: Jeanne, Jeanette, and Rosemary and two brothers: Charles and James. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers and sisters. After graduating from Albany High School in 1937, John entered Ball State College. While attending college, he worked for Chevrolet from 1937 to 1941. He was drafted into the United States Army in 1941 to serve his country in World War II. He graduated from bombardier training in 1943 and went on to fly 65 combat missions in a B-26 Marauder in the European Theatre. He transferred to the Air Force in 1948. During his 25 years of military service, his decorations include: Air Medal with 12 oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal with 2 oak leaf clusters, and numerous campaign and service ribbons. During his early service years, he was stationed all over the world. Some of his duty stations included: Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN, Ft. Warren, WY, Ft. Armstrong, HI, Santa Anna, CA (Flight School), Deming, NM (Navigation School), and England and France (WWII). While stationed in California, John married Thelma Louise Wilson on December 3, 1947. They were married for over 65 years, until her death in 2013. During their marriage they lived with their children in California, Kansas, Japan, Hawaii, Nebraska, Virginia and Oklahoma. Upon John's retirement in 1966, he returned to his wife's hometown, Walters, OK. While there, he worked for the OK Turnpike Authority. John engaged in farming and raising cattle until the age of 93. He enjoyed the time he spent caring for his cattle and planting crops. John was a Mason and a member of the Cache Valley Lodge #530 for over 50 years, where he served as a past Master and Secretary. Due to declining health, John moved to the Veteran's Center in 2012. While there, he kept his bright mind and desire to get stronger. Mr. Cunningham is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, John and Cecillia Cunningham, Lawton, OK; a daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Mark Smith, Lawton, OK; a granddaughter and grandson-in-law, Amy and Brandon Patrick, Oklahoma City, OK; grandsons and granddaughters-in-law, Brent and Jaymi Smith, Lawton, Brian and Gayla Cunningham, Forney, TX, and John Thomas and Shonee Cunningham, San Antonio, TX; two great granddaughters, Isabel Smith and Logan Cunningham; and three great grandsons, Seth, Jet and John Sterling Cunningham; a brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Eugene and Barbara Wilson, Dallas, TX; sisters-in-law, Virginia Wilson, Bethany, OK, and Jeanne Wilson, Missoula, MT, and Joy Wilson, Wichita, KS; many nieces, nephews and friends. John Cunningham will be remembered as a member of "The Greatest Generation" who grew up in the poverty stricken days of "The Great Depression." He went on to fight for his country in WWII not for fame or recognition but because it was the "right thing" to do. He believed in the principles of duty, honor, country and family and he worked hard to follow those values all of his life.
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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Service

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Starts at 1:30 pm (Central time)

First United Methodist Church

202 East Oklahoma Avenue, Walters, OK 73572

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