Patrick J. Cunningham
FUNERAL HOME
Alexander Funeral Home, Inc - Warrensburg
3809 Main Street
Warrensburg, NY

Patrick J. Cunningham

Oct. 19, 1939 - July 13, 20

NORTH CREEK - Patrick J. Cunningham, white water rafting pioneer, ski shop operator, hunter, fisherman, gardener and all around character, died July 13, 2021 in North Creek, NY, his lifelong home. Pat suffered from Parkinson's disease and died peacefully in his sleep at Elderwood. He was 81.

A fifth generation Adirondacker, Patrick Cunningham was born on October 19, 1939 to Margaret Collins Cunningham and H. Butler Cunningham. His parents operated the J.E. Cunningham General Store and his father was instrumental in bringing skiing to North Creek, serving as president of the Gore Mountain Ski Lift Corporation. Pat Cunningham graduated from Johnsburg Central School and earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Norwich University.

As a teenager, Pat was an outstanding ski racer and earned a place at the 1957 Junior Nationals at Mount Rose in Nevada. The town raised funds to support his first ever trip out of state and hung a "Good Luck Pat" banner outside school. He made the junior national team and went on to race for Norwich University and the U.S. Army Ski Team in Berchtesgaden, Germany, where he served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Pat said he had the best job in the US Army – they gave him a Volkswagen and he drove all over Europe going to ski races including the Hahnenkamm in Kitzbuhel and the Lauberhorn in Wengen. In 1962, Pat was one of the top 20 US skiers and tried out for the 1964 Winter Olympics but broke his elbow before the trials and had to withdraw. After three years in Germany, Pat traveled. "He went around the world alone and with very little money," recalled his sister Mary. "In the early 60s, being from a small upstate town, this took a great deal of ambition, courage and strength."

Pat took over Cunningham's Ski Shop, one of the oldest ski shops in the country, from his parents. He transformed an old cattle and chicken barn into Cunningham's Ski Barn eventually expanding the business to eight ski shops at its peak. Pat did all of the buying and selling of ski merchandise, set bindings, tuned skis, and cut cross country trails. He supported tens of thousands of skiers over 65 years.

In the offseason, Pat worked for Torrington Construction as an engineer for ten years and built roads in the North Country. In 1978, he went rafting down the Hudson River with a few friends and had a brainstorm. The upstate white water rafting industry was born. Pat operated Hudson River Rafting Company for 35 years rafting thousands of people on the Hudson, Sacandaga, Black and Moose Rivers and Ausable Chasm. He employed hundreds of people including several who went on to operate their own rafting businesses today.

He served on the Town of Johnsburg Planning Board, Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce and the Lake George Chamber of Commerce.

Pat Cunningham married Deborah Hosley Cunningham in 1982 on Rock Island in Blue Mountain Lake. A native of Arizona, an Italian friend of the extended family brought Deb to North Creek. They enjoyed horseback rides and happiness for over 40 years. His first marriage, to Mary Lynne Heldmann, ended in divorce but they remained friends.

Pat leaves behind five children: Patrick J. Cunningham (Laura) and David J. Cunningham, (Susan) of Queensbury, Mark J. Cunningham (Shannon) of Greenwich, CT, Tyler D. Cunningham of Lake Placid, and Meredith D. Cunningham of North Creek; eight grandchildren: (Elle, Colin, Mara, Aiden, Zachery, Declan, Teagen and Dylan); siblings: Richard B. Cunningham of Troy, Mary C. Moro and Thomas J. Cunningham, of North Creek. He was predeceased by brother James Cunningham.

Pat was a gatherer and a griller. Friends and relatives recall pig roasts over his old bus engine, dinners at Christmas time with venison stew after a day of skiing at Gore, animated discussions of a 12-point buck over a hunter's cocktail (or two) each November and bonfires after spring rafting. He loved to serve up Pimm's Cup in special glasses for the Kentucky Derby, race boats on Blue Mountain Lake, grill lobsters for his employees in Beaver Meadows during peak foliage, and sponsor ski-joring races for local kids on the trails behind the Ski Barn. Many summer gatherings were held on the porch of the Blue Mountain Lake Inn (belly dancers welcome), which he ran for over 40 years. Pat touched us all.

The life of Patrick J. Cunningham will be celebrated on Saturday, July 24 at Cunningham's Ski Barn at 3268 State Route 28, North Creek beginning at 10:30 am with a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. and a barbeque and stories to follow. All who knew and loved Pat are welcome.

The family wishes to thank Elderwood at North Creek for exceptional care and family relations. In lieu of flowers, the family requests those who wish to express sympathy consider making a donation to the North Country Ministry, In memory of Patrick J. Cunningham, P.O. Box 478, Warrensburg, NY 12885. Friends are encouraged to submit stories of Pat in writing for a memory book to [email protected]

Please visit www.alexanderfh.net for online guest book and condolences.


Published by Post-Star on Jul. 18, 2021.
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MEMORIAL EVENTS
Jul
24
Visitation
10:30a.m. - 11:00a.m.
Cunninghams Ski Barn
3268 State Route 28, North Creek, NY
Jul
24
Funeral service
11:00a.m. - 12:30p.m.
Cunninghams Ski Barn
3268 State Route 28, North Creek, NY
Jul
24
Service
12:30p.m. - 4:00p.m.
Cunninghams Ski Barn
3268 State Route 28, North Creek, NY
Funeral services provided by:
Alexander Funeral Home, Inc - Warrensburg
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17 Entries
I was sorry to hear about Pat passing away and would have attended the service had I know about it. Pat was a great classmate and friend that I didn´t get to get often enough. I did see him in North Creek when visiting my mother and at various ski industry shows. I mentioned to Pat about my being on the U.S. Army ski team in Germany and suggested that he contact them so he could enjoy skiing in Europe. My mother and Waltrude enjoyed working at the Ski Barn and had many stories to tell about the days in the shop. Gayle and I send our condolences to Deborah and the rest of the Cunningham family
Dean Baker
School
July 28, 2021
The Maloney Family
July 27, 2021
What a life: Making the best seasonal use of elevation and gravity! I met Pat only once, when he dropped everything he was doing to sell and mount bindings on a hot-shot pair of Volkls that I had been looking for. We had a great chat, some of which revolved around knowing and skiing with his brother Dick. I've still got those black and yellow Volkls and consider them the best DH skis I ever had...and I was reassured of that by Pat's personal ownership of them. My condolences to Dick and the family and Godspeed to Pat on that big chairlift.
Ray Hull
Other
July 24, 2021
Dave and Family- I am sorry for your lose. Pat was a legend and I am so privileged to have spent some springs and summers running around the Adirondacks working for Pat. He was a true trailblazer and a true legendary figure. I hope all your amazing memories you all have together give you solace.
Toby Frank
Friend
July 23, 2021
LOVED Pat. One of earths great people has passed on. Never forget him skiing up to me on blue ice at Gore saying isn´t this the best skiing ever!!!! Sorry we are out of town for his service. Him and Dad can tell North Creek stories and entertain everyone up there
Kate OKeeffe and Jim Fuchs
Family
July 23, 2021
We would like to extend our condolences to Deborah and the entire Cunningham clan on your loss. I first met Pat in 1957 when he came to Old Forge to race in the Eastern High School Team championships as an independent. The downhill was on the old narrow gage Skyride. Pat quickly found us locals in our Pre race inspection looking for tips on how we handled Skyride. We met at the infamous fall away turn where the the trees were wrapped in old mattresses. Pat asked me about that red stain on the mattress. Oh no problem Cunningham, that´s blood from a racer that crashed yesterday when he got too much weight on the inside edge and crashed. He should be out of the hospital soon. I´ll never forget the look on his face. Later on we told him it was ketchup that we planted just for him. I´ll never forget the laughs we had. That´s when a 60 year friendship began. When he came to Norwich to ski and study we continued our adventures traveling the Collegiate race circuit and we´re fraternity brothers. Along with Dave Woods we became the "Adirondack Connection" deep in the heart of New England ski country. After breaks we would ride back to school where his Mom & Dad would pack us a few sandwiches for the ride from North Creek to Vermont. We kept in touch at reunions. The highlights were in 2004 for a Ski Team reunion at Sunapee where Pat had a shop and generously fixed us old timers with up to date skis boots and poles. What a day it was! Next was our Norwich 50th where we were inducted into the Norwich Athletic Hall of Fame. As his eulogy says, he was without a doubt an ADK character. We will miss him.
Fred Liddle
Friend
July 23, 2021
Dave and Family, I was sorry to read of your Dad´s passing. Thinking of you at this difficult time. Mary Ellen
Mary Ellen Field
July 23, 2021
Remember Pat from school and he was always a terrific guy. Willing to help anyone who asked. Pat got along with everyone and was always good for a laugh. I know he made a number of reunions and shared many a tale from our Norwich days. Thanks for your service and all the contributions to your community. Pat, RIP
Dom Ruggerio, NU # 61, Colonel (Ret)
School
July 22, 2021
The Piper Family
July 22, 2021
I was a Ski Rep for many years. Meeting with Pat was always an "interesting experience." We always had a few chuckles. Eternal Turns RIP PAT
Marshall Bouchey
July 22, 2021
Dick, Tom and Family I met Pat only once but I am most envious of his life experiences. It sounds like family dinners in North Creek must have been most exciting. I am sorry for your loss. Wow! What an exciting man.
Ray Doring
Other
July 22, 2021
Wow I never knew his early history. He was a true pioneer of so many things Adirondack. Peace out.
Darlene Gregson
Friend
July 19, 2021
So sad to hear of Pat's passing. He was an amazing person and I feel honored to have known him.
Linda Rose
Friend
July 19, 2021
My heart goes out to Mary, Richard and Thomas.
Ron J. Richards
School
July 18, 2021
Mr. Cunningham was always so accommodating and kind to us, especially to our son, when he was a ski racer and teacher at Gore. I will always remember the sparkle in his eyes. May his memory always be for a blessing.
Sally Scuderi
Other
July 18, 2021
Dave, looks like your father grabbed the bull by the horns and rode it his whole life. Sounds like he lived his life to the fullest and then some. (I´d probably be afraid of him!) This huge personality is not one you bury, it is one that lives inside you forever. Regardless it´s so hard to lose your dad. I´m guessing he was so proud of you and loved you very much and I´m so sad for you
Peggy Cook
July 18, 2021
Mark, You are all in our thoughts and prayers as you mourn the loss of your father. We sincerely hope you find comfort in the wonderful memories he left you with.
Elvin
Other
July 17, 2021
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