Willis William “Bill” Cunningham passed away quietly at his home Wednesday, November 20, 2013.
He was born August 27, 1918 in Woodville, Idaho, the seventh child of John and Laura Cunningham. The flu epidemic was in full swing and took his mother nearly three months later. Bill graduated from Idaho Falls High School, the only one of his family to do so.
After high school, he began working for room and board at his brother-in-law’s service station. He was an avid fisherman and began tying flies and selling them. He sold a lot and soon started selling fishing tackle.
During this time, Bill met Eva Parsons at the LDS ward they both attended in Blackfoot. It didn’t take long before they started dating and fell in love. But World War II took Bill away to basic training in St. Louis, Mo., and then Sarasota, Fla., where Eva joined him to be married in 1942. The marriage was solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple in 1943.
Scoring in the top five percentile in the nation, he was chosen for Aircraft Radio in the US Air Corps. He was sent to the South Pacific and served there for the reminder of the war. Bill became a radio and Morse Code expert and earned the rank of Technical Sergeant.
When Bill returned to Blackfoot, he took over the service station again and started selling his flies and fishing tackle, soon adding hunting gear. This was the beginning of Bill’s Sport Shop. The business grew and in 1964, they built a new store, on West Bridge Street. Bill’s Sport Shop not only sold fishing and hunting supplies, but camping gear, shoes, golf equipment, boats and snow skies. Bill was an excellent salesman and people came from all around to shop at Bill’s!
While the business was growing, so was their family. Bill Jr. was born before he shipped off to the South Pacific. Carolyn was next, then John, Lanny and Joy.
Bill and Eva loved to travel and enjoyed many trips with various tour groups. They’ve been to all but three states in the continental United States.
Bill was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings, including scout master, bishoprics, Elders Quorum and Young Men. Bill and Eva served in the Idaho Falls Temple for many years and loved it.
Bill was preceded in death by his dear Eva in 2011; daughter, Carolyn Cunningham; a great grandson, Nathan Cunningham; and a great granddaughter, Emma Bradshaw.
He is survived by his children, William R. Cunningham (Susan) of Mesa, Ariz., John R. Cunningham (Rhea) of Idaho Falls, Lanny C. Cunningham (Dedra) of Blackfoot and Joy Bradshaw (Steve) of Rupert; 14 grandchildren; 38 great grandchildren; and 7 step-grandchildren.
The funeral for Bill Cunningham will be held on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at the Second Ward LDS Church on 660 Teton Road in Blackfoot. The family will meet with friends and relatives from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Monday, November 25, 2013 at the Hawker Funeral Home, 132 South Shilling Avenue in Blackfoot and for one hour prior to services at the church. Interment will be in the Riverside-Thomas Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org .