PEKIN - Eugene Edward Cunningham, 80, of Pekin, Ill., passed away at 6:08 p.m. Saturday, March 8, 2014, at the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home in Peoria.
Gene was born on April 26, 1933, in Pekin, Ill., to Robert and Irene Cunningham. He was a devoted husband with 59 years of marriage to his high school sweetheart, Joanne Danner, who survives. They married on Feb. 24, 1955.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
After serving in the United States Air Force during the Korean War, Gene and Joanne made their home in Pekin, Ill.
They had three children who survive, Robert (Buck) Cunningham, Vicki (Rich) Shanklin and Shelly Cunningham. Also surviving are two grandchildren, Jabin Cunningham and Coltin (Megan) Cunningham. He also leaves behind a brother, Bobby Cunningham of Pekin, Ill.
In his early years, Gene played fast pitch softball with Basco Autobody and pitched a winning game against the famous team "The King and His Court." He shared his love of sports through coaching little league baseball, Biddy Basketball and boxing. He was an avid hunter who enjoyed spending time in the wilderness with his many beloved dogs. His hobbies evolved into raising and training German Shorthair dogs, and they competed in and won numerous field trials throughout Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Illinois. In his retirement years, he enjoyed camping, fishing and riding his horses with his beloved wife, children and grandchildren.
Respecting his wishes, a casual gathering to celebrate Gene's life will be from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, at Avanti's Restaurant, 3610 Kelly Ave., Pekin. Join the family for a time of food and fellowship.
Henderson Funeral Home & Crematory is in charge of the arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine to benefit animal research.
To view Gene's memorial tribute or to leave an online condolence, go to www.hendersonfuneralcare.com.