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Gary Lee Cunningham

July 2, 1948 October 1, 2021
Gary Lee Cunningham
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Obituary for Gary Lee Cunningham

Gary Lee Cunningham of Fenton, Michigan, age 73, passed away Friday October 1, 2021 at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital Ann Arbor.

He was born in Flint, Michigan on July 2, 1948 to Theodore and Jennie Cunningham. As a child, Gary had the unique circumstance where both of his parents worked in factories. This allowed him to spend many hours exploring the wilderness near his home, going on many adventures (and often getting some Halo Burger) with his beloved dog Queenie.

Gary was a graduate of Bentley High School in Flint, class of 1966, where he was co-captain of the football team and track team. Following high school, he briefly worked for AC Spark Plug. However, always an avid reader and learner, Gary yearned to see the world and just a year after graduation joined the United States Navy to do so. During his tenure with the Navy, Gary served as a Submariner aboard the USS Tang (SS-563) and the USS Scamp (SSN-588) and was able to fulfill his wish, being stationed in Seattle, San Diego, Hawaii, and throughout Asia.

After six years in the Navy, Gary attended classes at the University of Michigan-Flint to pursue a B.S. in Psychology. When he was there, a young Sandy Beemer caught sight of him and decided he was the one for her. The two had a long and loving courtship before getting married on February 12, 1988. After finishing his degree, Gary worked many odd jobs, including returning to AC Spark Plug, sales, and work as a Repair Supervisor for Symplex Communications in Ann Arbor.

However, both he and Sandy desperately wanted children and, after trying for many years, they decided to adopt two children from Vietnam. They met their son, Benjamin Thao, on August 12, 1995, and they met their daughter, Jennie Uyen, on February 5, 2001. From the moment he laid eyes on each of his children, there was no doubt in his mind that they were his and he wanted to give them everything he could. This led Gary and Sandy to make the decision to have him leave the workforce to dedicate himself entirely to his children.

As a stay at home Dad, Gary made sure his children were always taken care of, whether it be a long conversation talking about life, a warm cooked meal as soon as they got home, or even making sure Ben was awake to go to school or work. It was always important to him to be there for everything his children found important, and he was always in the audience for every band concert, dance recital, and other events. He always enjoyed the fact that his children did not end up being athletic like him, instead going the artistic and musical route, and he was always amazed by what they were able to do. This, despite what he would jokingly refer to as his “one failing as a parent”, which was his inability to teach either of his kids (but mostly Ben) how to throw a ball.

Gary was, at his heart, an immensely warm and loving person. His private nature hid that from many, but to his family he was always there, always the rock upon which everyone else relied. His advice and counsel helped shape his children and his family, bringing them comfort and joy throughout the years they had together.

Beloved husband of Sandra for thirty three years. Loving father of Benjamin Thao Cunningham and Jennie Uyen Cunningham. Brother of Wayne Cunningham (Joan) and John Cunningham (Tina). Gary was preceded in death by parents Theodore R. Cunningham and Jennie L. [Behrendt] Everdon Cunningham Hill, and nephew David Cunningham. He is survived by several nieces and nephews.

A gathering of friends and family will be held.


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