William Arthur Cunningham was born to Charlie and Ivey Cunningham on August 19, 1926, in Irving, Texas
After discovering a missing hip socket, the young boy would spend several weeks at Scottish Rite Hospital where the doctors fused his hip. However, it would be evident to those around him that a birth defect would not deter William. He excelled in academics and developed his musical abilities, including attending the Stamps Baxter School of Music. It was the recommendation of one of his piano teachers that opened the door for him to serve as pianist for the Blue Ridge Quartet out of North Carolina.
Following his return to Irving, he began his service as a full-time pianist for First Assembly of God in Irving, where he met the love of his life, Ila Dean Steadham. Over the next fifty years, William would faithfully serve as Secretary, Deacon, Sunday School teacher, and pianist.
In addition to his “church career”, his work career at Gifford-Hill would be one of longevity and loyalty - lasting forty-three years before retiring in 1991.
William was not acquainted with the typical meaning of “retirement”; to him, it simply meant he no longer went into the office on a daily basis. His life was busier than ever: traveling, hosting small groups in his home, providing care for an aging minister and his parents, cooking for his family and friends, and – most importantly – relishing his role as “Papa”.
At his retirement celebration, William had this response to a listing of his many career accomplishments:
“From ticket writer at one of the smallest gravel pits to the ‘Ivory Palace at Chateau Plaza’ – 43 years with some of the best people in the whole world. Any success I have achieved, I owe to them.”
As his family, we echo those same sentiments - any successes or accomplishments are attributable to William Cunningham - his life, his influence, his example, and his prayers.
He is survived by his family: Max, Suzanne, Cody and Cheyenne Cunningham; Randy, Carol and Chelsea Kimberlin, and Martha Cunningham. A memorial service celebrating William’s life will be held on Sunday, November 1, at 3 pm in Valley View, Texas, at Christian Gathering.
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