Donald “Don” L. Cunningham, 87, of Danville, passed away on April 23, 2021 at OSF Sacred Heart in Danville. He was born on September 26, 1933, son of Mildred and Roy Cunningham in Tilton. They preceded him in death. Also preceding him in death are his siblings Dean Cunningham, Margery Downey, and Brad Cunningham, his first wife Barbara Cole Cunningham, and 3 grandchildren, Matthew, Robert, and Brandy Padalik.
He is survived by his wife Esther Cunningham; children Dwayne (Sheryl) Cunningham of Michigan City, IN, Bruce Cunningham of Danville, Diane (Frank) Padalik of Columbus, IN, and Beth (Doug) Renth of Edwardsville; step-children Mike Starr of Westville and Christie Baker of Perrysville, IN; sister Karen (Dick) Wynn of Mahomet, brothers-in-law Alan (B.J.) King of White Heath and John King of Clayton, NC. He is also survived by his grandchildren Blake (Katie) Cunningham, Danielle Cunningham, Carrie Cunningham, Brittany (Kyle) Moody, Lindsey Padalik, Cole Bolton, Jadyn Renth, and Kelsey Renth; step-grandchildren Tyler, McKenzi, and Hayden Cromwell- Starr and Lily Baker; and great-grandchildren Devin, Chance, Kaleb, and Alyssa Bays, Daulton Stelzer, Dallas Cunningham, Lyndy Moody, Ozzie and Cecilia Cunningham; and step great-grandchildren Myli, Henry, Wrenli, Oakli, Aria, and Jasper. He loved spending time with his family and will be greatly missed.
Don graduated from Danville High School and later attended the University of Illinois where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Science and his Master’s degree in Administration. During his career in education for the Bismarck-Henning School District, he served many roles such as a teacher, coach, lead teacher, and transportation director. Don became the principal of Bismarck Grade School and served in that position for 22 years before his retirement in 1994. He was admired and respected by all, but especially the children who he took under his charge as principal.
After he retired, Don traveled to Australia, a place he envisioned visiting for many years. He loved it so much, he went twice! He enjoyed traveling and visited Canada, Fiji, New Zealand, and various stateside locations as well. He was an avid gardener and spent many hours outside with his vegetables and beautiful flowers. Don obtained status of Master Gardener at the University of Illinois. He participated in the local Master Gardeners through the U of I Extension in Danville where they completed projects throughout the area and took phone calls from residents who needed assistance with gardening. Don also provided gardening advice via a local radio show.
Don also loved fishing and built a lake in his backyard where he invited his friends and family to come fish with him. He loved all things Illini and the Chicago Cubs. Most of all, Don loved his family. He loved them deeply and his gentle, kind spirit touched each one.
Don proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps from 1953 until 1955. He was stationed on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Oriskany during the Korean War. He will have military rites at his graveside commemorating his sacrifice.
Don’s family will be receiving guests on Thursday, April 29, 2021 from 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm at Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center at 3940 N. Vermilion Street in Danville. A Funeral Service celebrating his life will take place the following day on Friday, April 30, 2021 at 11:00 am, also at the funeral home. He will be laid to rest next to Barbara at Sunset Memorial Park. In honor of Don’s love of his service and education, memorials can be made to the Vermilion County War Museum at 307 Vermilion St, Danville, IL.
Please join Don’s family in sharing memories, photos, and videos on his tribute wall at www.sunsetfuneralhome.com.
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