Harry M. Cunningham, 83, Dunnellon, Fla., died Jan. 14, 2013. Harry was one of six children born in Beaumont, Texas, Sept. 11 1929, to the late Henry and Bloomie Minchen Cunningham. Harry's father, Henry, died when Harry was nine years old, but was an impressive figure in his life. Henry was a race car driver who came to Beaumont in 1909 by motorcycle; he drove the first auto in Sydney, Australia and was honored to be both Theodore Roosevelt and the King of England's chauffeur. Harry's mother, Bloomie, was one of 12 children of Meyer and Rachel Minchen of Austin, Texas. Both Meyer and Rachel were Russian immigrants who met at the port of Galveston in 1882. Meyer was an artistic tailor and hatter to prominent politicians in Austin at the time.
Harry was a gifted athlete and developed into one of Beaumont's best known left-handed pitchers. In 1949 he was awarded a baseball scholarship to the University of Southwest Louisiana. Where he played and received a B.S. degree in Business Administration. Harry also served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953 when he was honorably discharged. Harry continued his love for baseball with coaching the Beaumont, Texas, Spindletop Little League team to an undefeated season. In 1956 he met the love of his life while working at Sun Oil Company. Elizabeth "Betty" Sehler and Harry were wed at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Beaumont, Texas, in 1957. They had four children, Kevin, Mary, Christopher and Daniel. In 1966 the Cunningham family moved to Naples, Fla., where Harry was an independent insurance broker and owner of Cunningham Insurance Agency. Harry was also very active in state and local politics, having run for Mayor of Naples, serving on state appointed committees, promoting state and local public referendums and helping candidates seeking office, Harry was in the forefront. Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey while visiting the Cunningham home in Naples said that he noticed the same "Fire for public service" in Harry that he was blessed with.
Upon their retirement in 1990, Harry and Elizabeth moved to their beloved Rainbow River home in Dunnellon, where they were active in their church, traveled, enjoyed their grandchildren and remained active in the community.
In addition to his wife of 50 years, Elizabeth, and his daughter, Mary who died at the age of nine from complications of Cystic Fibrosis, Harry is preceded in death by his brothers and sister, Joseph Cunningham, Virginia Oxford, Hugh Cunningham, John Cunningham, Patrick Cunningham and Edmund Cunningham. Harry is survived by his three sons, Kevin Cunningham, Harry Christopher Cunningham, and Daniel Cunningham; daughter-in-law, Karen Cunningham; grandchildren, Courtney Cunningham Pullias, Brogan Cunningham, Katelyn Cunningham, Nicole Cunningham and Erin Cunningham.
A memorial service for family and friends will be 4:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013 at Hiers/ Baxley Funeral Services, Timber Ridge facility, 9695 S.W. 110th Street, Ocala, FL 34481, 352-873-4114.
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