Howard Frank Cunningham

July 09, 2023

Howard Frank Cunningham, of Arcola, Missouri, departed this life to join his Lord on Sunday evening June 25, 2023, from his home surrounded by his loving family. He had been tenderly cared for by the staff of Phoenix Hospice for the past three weeks.

Frank was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 17, 1940. At one month of age, he was adopted by Ivan Russell and Bessabel Cunningham. They took him to South America where he lived until the age of twelve. His father worked for Standard Oil (later Exxon). After attending thirteen different schools, he graduated from Southwest Miami High in Miami, Florida. While in high school, Frank was on the swim team, where he took third place at a state meet. He served as a lifeguard while in the Army and taught all of his children to swim (but not his wife). Having lived on Stockton Lake, they all enjoyed the water. He joined the Army and served three years as a draftsman for the Corps of Engineers. After basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, schooling at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, he was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where he met his future wife, Loretta Cooper. They were married on July 23, 1961, and shared 61 wonderful years. After his discharge in July 1963, he spent the summer hauling hay with his brother-in-law, Otis Cooper, which was quite an experience for a city boy.

Frank and Loretta moved to Kansas City, Missouri. He worked for Western Electric in Lee's Summit and TWA in Kansas City as an electroplater. When he was laid off from TWA in 1971, he got a job in Greenfield, Missouri with Pueblo Homes (where Pennington Seed is now). Following a very short employment with them, he got a job at General Electric in Springfield, Missouri and retired after 25 years at the age of 55. He was an electroplater and shell fabricator.

Frank was baptized at Greenfield Church of Christ in 1961 and remained a faithful Christian. He taught many Sunday school classes, led singing and devotionals. With his wife, they made sixteen medical mission trips to Central America. They spent five years as houseparent’s at Fair Haven Children's Home in Strafford, Missouri.

Frank loved his wife and children very, very much. Frank and Loretta spent much time traveling and visited all fifty states and Canada. Enjoyed numerous vacations with his family in RVs. Coached little league baseball (even making a baseball field at his home complete with backstop for his sons). For his daughter he had a concrete basketball halfcourt poured. Frank was very proud of his grandchildren and enjoyed attending their sporting events. At different times he took them on vacation without their parents and had great fun!

He loved fishing on Stockton Lake and was a GREAT crappie fisherman! Family and friends enjoyed many a fish fry at his home. When he retired, he took up golf and enjoyed playing in a Senior Men's league at Lockwood, MO, until poor health forced him to quit. He got a hole-in-one on his 68th birthday! He served fifteen years on the Dade County Nursing Home Board and was a member of the Men's Civic Club.

He is survived by his wife Loretta (Cooper) Cunningham; one daughter, Elizabeth Lilly and husband Russell of Pleasant Hope; three sons, Robert Cunningham and wife Angie of Springfield, David Cunningham and wife Lisa of Jonesboro, AR, and Howard Cunningham of Arcola; eleven grandchildren, Amanda (Lilly) Green and husband Kyle of McKinney, TX, Rachel Lilly of Pleasant Hope, Garison Cunningham, Allison (Cunningham) Mauldin and husband Quinton and Jessica Cunningham of Jonesboro, AR, Jacob, Joshua, Benjamin, Elizabeth and Rebekah Cunningham all of Springfield, MO and Abigail Cunningham of Arcola; and two great grandsons, Dax and Wyatt Green, with another on the way. Also surviving is brother-in-law, Otis Cooper and wife Ruth Ann of Arcola; and several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Preceding him in death were his parents, Ivan Russell and Bessabel Cunningham; one brother, Ivan Russell (Chico) Cunningham Jr.; one sister, Betty Kleinhelter and brother-in-law Robert (Dutch) Kleinhelter; and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Ira and Gladys Cooper.

Cremation was under the care of Greenfield Funeral Chapel. A Celebration of Life will be held at Water Mill Church of Christ in Springfield, Missouri on July 22, 2023, at 11:00am. A private family burial is planned.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Fair Haven Children's Home, Latin American Missions or Phoenix Hospice.