James Gross Cunningham

Published 9:05 pm Monday, January 30, 2012

James was born in Selma, Alabama on September 14, 1923 and died in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on January 29, 2012.  There will be a private memorial for family.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Earl S. and Palma W. Cunningham, wife Beth, sisters Mildred, Elsie and Ouida, and brothers William, Douglas and Ralph.

He is survived by 3 generations of nephews and nieces.

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James attended the University of Alabama and the Naval Academy.  He had anticipated a career as a Naval officer, but an accident at Annapolis resulted in his medical discharge.  He often said that the accident was possibly one of the best things that happened to him in that, after leaving the Academy, he attended the School of Mines in Colorado.  This led to a career in the oil industry.  The best part about his detour to the School of Mines, however, was meeting a young librarian named Beth W. Mitchell.  Beth was to be the love of his life and his wife for almost 60 years.

James and Beth traveled, it seemed, the entire world during his career and lived in two US states, Arizona and Louisiana, and many foreign countries including Australia, Libya, the Philippines and Indonesia.  James and Beth were welcomed and loved every place they lived throughout their lives.  They were committed to making the places they lived better for the local inhabitants as well.  They retired to Hawaii and lived there for 24 years before returning to the mainland in 2006.

James was a gentleman, in the truest since of the word.  He had a very gentle nature and a wonderful smile.  He made everyone he was around comfortable.  He followed national and world news closely and often could be found shaking his head at the suffering and turmoil he would see.  He supported many organizations that were established to help bring the impoverished out of their suffering and was thankful for the opportunity to do that. His love for his fellow man was beyond question.  His love and belief in our Heavenly Father was even more ingrained in his being.

He loved God’s creation and would often be blessed to watch sunsets in Hawaii and at Sunshine Pointe, in Alabama, commenting on the beauty of the Master’s work.  Ever the nomad at heart, one of his favorite things to do in his latter years was to peruse the skies, while enjoying those sunsets.  He would seek to identify a plane’s contrail and conjecture as to where the passengers on that plane were traveling.

James will be missed dearly by all of those who loved him but we are thankful that he is now with the love of his life, Beth, as well as all of his brothers and sisters. We are confident that we’ll see him again some day.

Contributions in his honor may be made to the University Church of Christ, Missions Ministry (Malawi), 1200 Julia Tutwiler Dr. – Tuscaloosa, AL 35404 or to Mission UpReach, Honduras Ministry, c/o Campus View Church of Christ, 196 Alps Road, Suite 2-395 – Athens, GA 30606.