Lawrence Ralph Cunningham
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GREAT FALLS —Lawrence "Larry" Ralph Cunningham, 79, of Great Falls, passed away suddenly at his home, Sunday, September 15, 2013.
A visitation will be held Friday, September 20, 2013 from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. at Schnider Funeral Home with a rosary recited at 7:00 p.m.; the family will greet visitors from noon to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. A funeral liturgy will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 21, 2013 at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Schnider Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Larry was born October 4, 1933 in West Newton, PA. He attended Penn State University before entering the Air Force via the Aviation Cadet Program, Class 57E. He completed Basic and Primary Flight Training in 1956. He married his wife, Aurelia, in 1956 and then embarked upon a career in the Air Force. He completed his bachelor's degree in General Science through the University of Omaha in 1965. During his career, Larry was assigned at numerous locations to include Laughlin AFB, TX; Williams AFB, AZ; Misawa AFB, Japan; Minot AFB, ND; Biggs AFB, TX; Clark AFB, Philippines; Da Nang AB and Phan Rang AB in Viet Nam; Griffis AFB, NY; Grand Turk Island; and Malmstrom AFB, MT. During this time he accumulated over 4800 flying hours and was a combat veteran in Viet Nam with 150 combat missions. Larry was qualified in various aircraft to include the F-86, F-84G, F-100, B-57, L-20, T-33, T-34, and T-28. During his Air Force career, he was recognized as an outstanding fighter and tactical reconnaissance pilot individually and as a flight and squadron lead pilot; he successfully landed his B-57 aircraft when the nose gear failed to extend, receiving a Safety Recognition award; he was assigned to command a Joint International Force at Grand Turk Tracking Station, Grand Turk Islands; and served as Senior Air Weapons Director, Malmstrom AFB, MT. He retired honorably from the Air Force at Malmstrom AFB, MT in December 1976 with his final flying duty in his favorite aircraft, the B-57 Canberra. He culminated a distinguished 20 year career with multiple Air Force Awards to include two Distinguished Flying Crosses, nine Air Medals, and two Air Force Commendation Medals.
Larry was an avid hunter, fisherman, outdoorsman, recycler, and advocate of protecting the environment. He was an admirer of jazz and 60s rock and roll. He was heavily involved in the Boy Scouts of America while his sons were growing up. He was an active member of the Order of Daedalians, Big Sky Flight #99, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 1087 Royal A Caufield Post. Larry volunteered at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, District 4. He was a member of the Corpus Christi Catholic Parish where he played a key role in their recycling program to benefit charitable efforts in underdeveloped countries. Larry was always willing to give a hand up and mentorship to friends, family, and strangers. He positively impacted many lives during his lifetime.
Larry is survived by his wife of 56 years, Aurelia Rose Faletto Cunningham; four children, George (Karen) Cunningham of Manassas, VA, Joan (Michael Winton) Cunningham of Monument, CO, Gregory (LaCinda) Cunningham of Alamagordo, NM, and James Cunningham of Taylorsville, KY; five grandchildren, Nikki Barber, Nicholas, Michael, and Ryan Cunningham and Natalee Winton; and four great-grandchildren, Zoey, Hanna, Carson and Emmalynn Schug.
Larry was noted for always answering the statement, "Have a good day" with "I never had a bad one!"
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Montana Public Broadcasting System (montanapbs.org) or the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW.org) in Larry's name.
Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.schniderfuneralhome.com. SCHNIDER FUNERAL HOME
Schnider Funeral Home
1510 13th Street South Great Falls, MT 59405-4501
Published in Great Falls Tribune on Sept. 18, 2013