Solon Wheeler Cunningham passed away on Monday, May 16, 2022, in Guin.
He was born at the family home in Eldridge on April 28, 1927. He attended school in Eldridge until his father passed away in 1940, when the family then moved to Winfield. He attended Hubbertville High School, where he played center on the basketball team. His team won the state championship in 1948, and to this date, their record has not been beat. He attended college in Livingston prior to joining the United States Air Force in 1950, completing basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas.
Thereafter he served at San Angelo AFB, Texas, Thule AFB, Greenland, Lincoln AFB, Nebraska, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, Naha AFB, Okinawa, Japan, Williams AFB, Arizona and Wiesbaden AFB, Germany. While stationed in Nebraska, he worked with a quiet guy with a stutter. The only time he didn’t stutter was when he played his guitar and sang. After he left the Air Force, this man’s name became well known: Mel Tillis. Years later, he was happy to meet his daughter, Pam Tillis, at the Pastime Theatre, when she was in town for a performance.
Retiring after 23 years of service, Mr. Cunningham found he had too much time on his hands, and he went back to his old job through the United States Civil Service. He continued working in Arizona for an additional eight years, until finally retiring for a second time and moving back to Winfield.
Despite living all over the world, he always considered Winfield home, and would visit whenever he could. The Cunningham’s were a very close family, and he enjoyed spending his time with his mother, brothers, and sisters, while there. He was an avid sports fan and a University of Alabama supporter. He attended games every chance he had, be it college football in Tuscaloosa or a high school game for the Winfield Pirates. He frequently paid for admission and treats for any students who were standing in line to attend a game.
In 2009, Mr. Cunningham was inducted into the Fayette County Sports Hall of Fame for his award-winning high school basketball season.
Throughout the years, he enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding dirt bikes. He traveled from Michigan for salmon fishing to South Dakota for pheasant hunting. He helped coordinate an annual javelina party in the Arizona desert for many years.
He was a helper. In his younger days, he was always willing to help anyone with just about anything. If you needed a ride, he was your man. If something needed to be built, he’d be there to help. One of the things he missed most as he grew older, was not being able to help others as he had in his younger days.
He spent his last years at Country Place Assisted Living until his most recent stay at Sunset Manor. His family would like to thank everyone at both facilities for taking such good care of him.
He is survived by his three daughters - Vickie Cunningham of Kalispell, Montana, Brenda (Michael) Fernety of Salem, Oregon, and Pamela (Keith) Foster of Paris, Kentucky; brother - Olan Cunningham; brother-in-law - Jim Weeks; two beloved grandchildren - Wesley (Cary) Hazel of Huntington Beach, Calif., and Krista (Tony) Robatzek of Whitefish, Montana; two great-grandchildren - Kyla Hazel and Jasper Robatzek; a host of nieces and nephews; and, because he never met a stranger, many good friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents - Flora Belle (Guess) Cunningham and Elijah Arthur Cunningham; his sisters - Elaine Cunningham, Mary Belle Estes and Maxine Weeks; and his brothers - Donald Cunningham, J.T. Cunningham and Jim Cunningham.
The funeral service for Mr. Cunningham was held on Thursday, May 19, 2022, from the Miles Memorial Funeral Home Chapel with burial following at the Winfield City Cemetery.
Bowen Funeral Home
981 State Highway 253
Winfield, Ala. 35594
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