Norman Ray “Dude” Cunningham passed away peacefully in his Ft. Chiswell, VA home on July 17, 2021 at the grand age of 91 years and 77 days.
Born to Leroy Guy and Lillian Pearl Cunningham in the small community of Pine Grove, WV on May 1, 1930, he would go on to lead a productive and independent life.
He graduated from Reader High School in Wetzel County, WV twenty days after his seventeenth birthday. Just four years later found him inducted into the United States Marine Corps. After grueling basic training at Camp Lejeune, NC, he was sent for intense winter conditioning at the newly formed USMC Cold Weather Battalion (now the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center) in Pickle Meadows, CA. This was in the middle of winter and located at 6, 800 feet elevation in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
His next pleasure trip landed him in Korea during the height of The Korean War. He completed his active duty assignment with dignity until transfer to USMC Reserves in 1953 and eventual Honorable Discharge with the rank of Lance Corporal on December 10, 1959.
Norman’s civilian life found him employed as a skilled bulldozer operator, where he hired out on multiple pipeline jobs throughout New England. He finished his career helping to construct interstate highways throughout the rugged mountains of his home state, West Virginia. He was a strong, supporting member of the International Union of Operating Engineers and was especially proud when he received his 60 year Membership pin.
His hobbies were varied. At one time, he enjoyed tinkering, gunsmithing, and raising his own Victorian Kennel Field Trial Beagles. He was a lifelong learner and an avid reader, sometimes devouring 1-2 books a week. His favorite topics were World History and US Politics. He was also a renowned storyteller with a fantastic memory up until the end of his life.
Norman was preceded in death by his sisters, Pauline “Peg” Crane, Betty Stormick, Freda Surgeon; two brothers, Billy Cunningham and Robert Cunningham; and the love of his life, wife of 41 years, Mary Jane.
Survivors include: brother, Jack and sister-in-law, Sharon Cunningham of Knoxville, PA; sister-in-law, Barbara Cunningham of New Martinsville, WV; multiple loving nieces and nephews; three daughters, Mary Joyce Crawford of Forest City, NC, Donna Sue Akers of Creamery, WV, and Tamara Lowry with her husband, Jerry of Fort Chiswell, VA. He leaves behind four grandchildren: Gary Wayne Crawford and Lori of Forest City, NC; Ronnie Lee Akers and Joanie of Creamery, WV; Carrie Lynn Liston and James of Sutton, WV; and Jeremy Scott Lowry of Ft. Chiswell, VA. He will also be missed by his four great-granddaughters, Tera Celeste Crawford, Emma Jane Liston, Tesla Clementine Liston, and Corinna Lynn Liston.
Graveside services will be provided by Ronald Meadows Funeral Parlor of Hinton, WV, with special thanks to Barnett’s Funeral Home of Wytheville, VA, at 2 p.m. on Friday, July 23, 2021 at the Old Greenbrier Baptist Church Cemetery in Alderson, WV.
Dude lived his life unapologetically, his way, with malice towards none. He will be greatly missed and never forgotten by all those who loved him. Sleep well, my sweet and gentle friend.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.ronaldmeadowsfp.com.
Arrangements are by the Ronald Meadows Funeral Parlors of Hinton.
West Virginia Daily News has been serving Greenbrier and Monroe Counties since 1866.