Walter L. Cunningham, age 58, died Monday, July 24, 2000, at Allen Memorial Hospital of polymyositis, a rare muscle disease.
Mr. Cunningham was born on August 3, 1941, to Edgar and Susie (Rockett) Cunningham, Sr., in Waterloo. He married Ruth L. Triplett on June 26, 1964, in Waterloo.
Mr. Cunningham graduated from Waterloo East High School in 1959. He was a veteran of the U. S. Army, serving in Okinawa and Southeast Asia. He received his B. A. in 1966, M. A. in 1971, and Ed. D. in 1991, all from the University of Northern Iowa. Walt also received an honorary doctorate from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. He began his career at McKinstry Junior High (1966-1968) where he taught rnathematics. He was a visiting teacher at East, McKinstry, and Logan Junior High School from 1968 to 1970. Walt then served as an Administrative Assistant at East High School from 1969 to 1970, and then became Director of the Educational Opportunity Program (1970-71) at the University of Northern Iowa. He was principal at Waterloo East High School for thirteen years and Deputy Superintendent of the Waterloo Community Schools for eight years, serving a total of thirty-two years in education. He went back to the Waterloo Schools to become an Assistant Principal at Central High School (1971-1972). He served as Principal at Logan Junior High School from 1973-1974 and became the first black high school principal in Iowa when he became principal of East High School in 1975.
He was the leader in the Neighborhood Youth Corporation, a member on the Board of Directors of the Boys Club, member of the Board of Directors of the Rath Packing Company, and a member and treasurer of Martin Luther King Board of Directors for twenty-one years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Mercantile Bank and was a member of the Wartburg College Board of Regents. He received the Black Hawk Leadership Brick Award and the Waterloo Public Citizen of the Year Award from the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. Walt received the Waterloo Optimist Educator of the Year Award, Citizen of the Year Award from the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center, the Excellence in Education Award from the Excellence Committee, and the Excellence in Education Award from Zeta Phi Beta Sigma.
In summary, we will remember Walter Cunningham, Sr., for his educational and community service, dedication to the pursuit of excellence, and his never-ending commitment to family and friends.
Survived by: his wife; four sons, Jeff Perkins of Waterloo, Walt Cunningham, Jr., of Chicago, Illinois, Everett and wife Chinazo Cunningham of Nyack, New York, Benjamin and wife Jill Cunningham of Iowa City; one brother: Edgar and wife Margaret Cunningham, Jr., of Waterloo; two sisters, Edna Hughes of Waterloo, Ella and husband Theodore Graves of Minneapolis, Minnesota, four granddaughters and three grandsons.
He was preceded by: his parents and one sister: Ethel Cunningham.
Services: 11:00 a.m. Friday at Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center with burial in Garden of Memories Cemetery. Friends may call from 5-8 Thursday at Central Middle School and at the convention center from 10:00 A.M.-10:45 A.M; the Kearns, Huisman-Schumacher Chapel on Kimball is in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that those who wish may donate memorials to the Walter Cunningham Scholarship Fund at East High, in care of Michelle Temeyer, Education Service Center, 1516 Washington Street, Waterloo, Iowa 50702.
Copyright Waterloo Courier, July 26, 2000, p. B2.