Thomas Neil Cunningham, 72 of Independence, Kansas went to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, July 15, 2022 while surrounded by his family.
Thomas Neil Cunningham, the third son of Clifford and Mary Cunningham, born February 16, 1950 grew up in the Radio Hill section of Garden City and Oswego/Montana area. He received a trophy for being the #2 welder in Kansas in 1969 but was unable to pursue his dream of becoming a Merchant Marine. In the early 1970’s, Thomas was saved in a revival in Parsons, Kansas. He enjoyed serving the Lord in whatever capacity was needed, be it in the church or the community. He farmed with his dad in SEK from his graduation until his marriage. He liked to work with his hands. He whittled a World War II style chest set of military vehicles and an oxen-yoke light fixture out of hedge wood. He could usually make anything that he thought was needed. He made lamps and bookcases. He worked for Autry Construction out of Baxter Springs for about 9 years until the boss’s death. Crossland Construction trained and hired him for about 9 years until he received a permanent lay-off due to a hard-to-find medical condition. He moved to Independence early in his life. The older ladies attending Meals-on Wheels couldn’t afford an electrician, carpenter, or plumber. Thomas would do the work for an affordable price. The ladies all liked his work. He was the only dependable custodial substitute for USD 446. Teachers would comment they could tell when he was on because their room got cleaned. He quit when COVID hit in 2020. Soon after, March 2021 he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. This has been mostly pain-free for which we Thank God!!
Highlights of his life were his children’s births. Amaris and Andrew were his delight. The year Amaris turned 5, they took a vacation and drove to Oregon camp. They made a short trip to the ocean for their enjoyment. They weren’t totally impressed as the waves on the sand tried to eat them. When Andrew was in kindergarten, Thomas was excited for him to begin Boy Scouts. He continued leading or helping to lead a troop until Andrew received his Eagle Award in 2011. Another highlight or two was the trips he took to Israel and Grenada, and West Indies. Not liking to travel, he loved both places and wasn’t ready to leave either place. In January of 2022, Thomas and Beverly went to a couple church camp in Florida. They headed home on Valentine’s Day, he said his leg was hurting. The pain came and sent until Hospice was begun on March 13th. Usually, his answer was zero or #1 pain. He has borne his illness with grace and dignity. He says leaving the children is hard.
June 29, 2022 was the 31st anniversary of his marriage to Beverly. Amaris joined the family in 1992, Andrew joined the family in 1993. Brendan Fillingim joined the family in 2016. Allen joined his mother in 2021. All are left to mourn his passing. His brothers, John, Charles, Rob and Dan, and sisters, Becky Queen and Joy , along with spouses mourn and his mother in-was Donna and sister in-laws Diane and Joanne also mourn.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Clifford Junior and Mary Cunningham and older brother, Rodger, younger sister, Beverly along with his father in-law, Wayne Rogers, and brother in-laws Daniel Baber and David Knight. Visitation will be held at Potts Chapel in Independence on Monday, July 25th with the family greeting friends from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. A Celebration of Thomas’ life will be held at the Old Fashion Baptist Church on Tuesday, July 26th at 10:00 am. To leave the family a special message of condolence, please visit, www.pottsfuneralhome.com.