FORT MILL, S.C. — Bruce Thomas Cunningham died of a broken heart on March 13, 2018, nearly four months after the love of his life, Dorothy, passed away in November. Bruce had never missed an anniversary with “Dot” so it was meant to be that they were together to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary on March 28 after all. He was surrounded by his loving children at the time of his passing.
Words cannot express the depth of how much he is missed by his loved ones. He leaves behind son Mark D. Cunningham and wife Pam, Clinton, IL; and daughter Terri L. Cunningham, Charlotte, N.C. In addition, he also leaves behind two granddaughters who were his pride and joy: Jamie Cunningham, Bloomington, IL and Amanda Cunningham Visinia, Clinton, Ill. Three great-grandchildren: Leilani Lynn, Matai Marcus and Koa Kingston Visinia, Clinton, Ill. And several nieces and nephews.
Bruce was born in Canastota, N.Y. in 1932, the son of William and Marietta “Mae” Relyea Cunningham, the youngest of five. He earned an Associate Degree in Chemistry from Binghamton Technical College, Binghamton, N.Y., before enlisting in the United States Army during the Korean War. He served for three years and spent most of his time at an Army base in Alaska while it was still recognized as a Territory and before it was a part of the United States. Before entering the service, however, his life changed when his sister introduced him to a co-worker, Dorothy “Dot” Avery. Subsequently, they married while he was on a 72-hour pass; hitch hiking home from his Base in time to attend his own rehearsal dinner. He got married the next day and had one day for a honeymoon before returning to the Base.
Once he was discharged in 1955, Bruce went on to attend, and graduate from Syracuse University with a BS in Chemistry. It was during this time he also became a father for the first time when son Mark was born. Upon graduation, Bruce went to work at Revere Copper and Brass in Rome, N.Y.. A promotion sent he and the family, which now included daughter Terri, to Clinton, IL where he worked several years before another promotion sent him back to Rome, NY. In 1978, a promotion to Vice President of Manufacturing called for he and Dot to relocate once again to Clinton, Ill. After Revere was sold to Olin Brass, Bruce worked for Olin at the plant in Bloomington, Ill. until he took early retirement when he was 60 years old. While he was in Clinton, over the years he was active in the Jaycees, the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Clinton United Methodist Church, Clinton Country Club, and the American Legion. Bruce and Dot relocated one more time in 2010 due to the persistent urging of daughter Terri to join her in the Carolinas. It was not an easy decision but because he was a dedicated father, they made the move, and even though he loved the warmer weather and had great neighbors, he always missed his old life in Clinton. They spent their last years in Carolina Lakes, Sun City, in Fort Mill, S.C., only 15 miles from Terri.
Bruce possessed an easy smile, twinkling eyes and a quick wit. He was proud of his time in the military and was a loyal Syracuse Orangemen fan. Besides his wife and children, his other passion was golf, which he shared with Dot. Anyone who knew Bruce also knew that Dot could golf circles around him and beat him on a regular basis, but he was not deterred; he loved it anyway. Even babysitting a grandchild didn’t keep them from the game, as they would take turns holding Amanda in the golf cart while the other took a swing. Bruce enjoyed his last tee time two weeks before his unexpected death. Being the devoted Dad that he was, he skipped golf for a week to stay and care for Terri after surgery for what would be his last four days.
Bruce is preceded in death by his parents, brother William, and sisters Bonnie Cunningham, Margaret “Peg” Saunders, and Carol Cunningham.
A Memorial Service will be held at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, June 24, 2018 at Forest Hill Church, 7224 Park Road, Charlotte, N.C., followed by a short reception immediately following the Service. The date is significant; it was chosen to honor him because it is the weekend between Father’s Day and Bruce’s birthday on June 29, when he would have turned 86.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the American Legion,219 N. Elizabeth St., Clinton, IL 61727 or Levine & Dickson Hospice House at Southminster, 8919 Park Road, Suite 1000, Charlotte, NC 28210.
Cremation services were provided by Wolfe Funeral Home, Fort Mill, S.C.