George Cunningham of Stevensville, Montana passed away on June 19, 2019, at the age of 95. Born in 1924, George was the only son of Orin and Sarah Cunningham. He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Susanne, and his two sons, Ken of Reno, Nevada and Keith of Vista, California.
Born in Watseka, Illinois, George grew up next to the famous race track in Speedway, Indiana, but his ties to the Bitterroot Valley go back to both sets of grandparents. His maternal grandfather, George May, owned the first mercantile in Stevensville and lived in the large yellow Victorian home on Park Street, as well as owning a farm on what is now the Metcalf Refuge. George’s mother, Sarah May, was born in Fort Owen. His father, Orin, moved to Stevensville as a young boy and grew up in the parsonage next to the Methodist Church where George’s grandfather, Charles Cunningham, was pastor. As a child, George spent many adventurous summers exploring the Bitterroots with his grandfather May, often camping in his pup tent under the large spruce still located on the old farm.
After serving in WWII, George settled in southern California where he attended Long Beach State University and Whittier College. It was there he met the love of his life, Susanne. In 1948, the two eloped and were married in Yuma, Arizona, a union that would last 71 years.
George had a long and satisfying career as a mathematics teacher in California at both the high school and college levels. The family lived in Anaheim and traveled extensively, including many summers camping and fishing at Rock Creek Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains. George was awarded six National Science Foundation summer scholarships which sent the family packing for colleges throughout the US. In 1970, the family hosted a Swiss exchange student, which began an ongoing friendship with their extended Swiss family.
Shortly after retiring in 1985, George and Sue left southern California to re-establish their connections in the Bitterroot Valley and Stevensville. Here they lived for the last 34 years of George’s life, enjoying some of their happiest times. Although legally blind, many early risers in Stevensville may recall the lanky older man walking his “morning mile” in downtown Stevi.
George was a loving, devoted husband and a spectacular dad. His beautiful tenor voice could be heard many Sundays at the Stevensville United Methodist Church. And, when not singing, his whistling delighted many a neighbor and friends. His hobbies included camping, fishing and antique clock collecting and repair. Known for his kindness, George’s many friends and all who knew him agree the world has lost an exceptional man.
George passed peacefully the afternoon of June 19 after calling both sons and daughters-in-law that same morning to say good-bye. George was a humble man and following his wishes, no formal memorial service will be held. We thank George for the impact he made on our lives and will miss him always.