John Thomas Cunningham Jr.

John Thomas Cunningham Jr.

Passed: March 21, 2024
Charleston, WV

John Thomas Cunningham Jr.

Passed: March 21, 2024
Charleston, WV


John Thomas Cunningham, Jr., 81, passed away peacefully on March 21, 2024, knowing he was loved by family, friends, and acquaintances. He was born on June 9, 1942, to the late John Thomas Cunningham, Sr., and Frankie Ann McCormick Cunningham.

He was predeceased by his brother, David Y. Cunningham, and grandson, John Anthony Thomas, II.

John is survived by his loving wife, Terry Hilken Cunningham; daughter, Kimberly Cunningham Deering, (Brian), grandsons Zach and Cole; daughter, Kelly Cunningham Thomas, (Tony), granddaughter Lainey Belle Thomas; brother, William E. Cunningham, (Debbie); sisters and brothers-in-law, Brenda and Jim Rouse, Barbara and Craig Raynor, and many nieces, nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

John was a graduate of Morris Harvey College and West Virginia University. He began his career as an educator at Woodrow Wilson Junior High School. He went on to become Vice Principal at East Bank Junior High School, Andrew Jackson Middle School, and George Washington High School. He then became Principal at Sherman High School and Poca High School. He finished his career in Putnam County, managing the Transportation System for students. He loved his students and cultivated their potential.

As a member of First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, WV, John taught the Trinity class for 10 years. He also taught the Rainbow class. He served as an Elder for many years. Additionally, he served with the Fellowship and Recreation Committee.

Retiring at age 61, John had a great retirement, making many new friends and totally enjoying himself. A true West Virginian, he loved his state. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, and the cabin in Pocahontas County. The friendships he made, including a special group of retired Marines and neighbors, were very meaningful to him. He equally enjoyed time spent with friends in Jackson County at his friend’s farm.

He loved his brothers and they all enjoyed working with wood. They started a craft business The Stick Men, and they participated in many craft shows together.

Known by family and friends as “King of Fireworks,” he delighted all with his marvelous creations.

He found it easy to address groups of people, loved all new innovations, reading and music, and never met a stranger. John will be remembered for “I did it my way.”

The memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m, Saturday, April 27, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church, 16 Leon Sullivan Way, Charleston, WV, with a reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are gratefully appreciated to First Presbyterian Church and Poca High School, 1 Dot Way, Poca, WV  25159, for the students in need.

Condolences may be sent to the family at .

Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home has been entrusted with arrangements.

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5 responses to John Thomas Cunningham Jr.

  1. Carl Meadows says:

    I retired from the Marine Corps in 2002 and moved to Woodrow, WV. One day, I was preparing to cut several problem trees when I noticed a vehicle coming up the driveway. He parked, got out and said, “Hey Buddy, my name is John Cunningham and I’m your neighbor from across the road.” He was very chatty and just would not leave me alone until I sat down with him and told him a little about myself.

    I did not know it then, but that conversation would spark a 22 year friendship that means so much to me. John would check in with me anytime he was coming to the mountain so we could get our projects aligned. Whether it was adding a roof to the front porch at the cabin, lawn work or building a woodshed at my place, the list of projects we completed together is a long one. We always enjoyed sitting on the front porch or by the fire pit listening to music as we fixed the world’s problems. John rule #1: Fishing is mandatory if the water is good at Handley, Knapps Creek, or the Greenbrier River. We shared many fun filled afternoons trying to best each other’s catch.

    We both loved motorcycles and he amazed me at how well he could maneuver his trike given he was 20 years my senior. John graciously hosted our annual Motorcycle Club weekend at the cabin every July for the last 13 years. He made sure all the neighbors on the mountain knew we were coming, and they were all invited. He always served his famous Ramp Casserole and provided fireworks for all to enjoy.

    John was my sounding board when anything was troubling me. He provided his wisdom on raising my son and years later, was there for me as I went through a divorce. He was there to help me move when I left Woodrow for a better job in North Carolina. We always stayed in touch and got together anytime we could.

    Thank you, Terry, for sharing this larger than life man with the rest of us. I miss him badly, but I thank God for that first conversation he insisted we have and the friendship that came from it.

    Carl and Jen Meadows

  2. Ed Leslie says:

    Ed Leslie shares:
    It is with a very deep sadness that I try to accept that a very dear friend, fraternity brother and someone I loved and always looked forward to seeing, has passed a way. John always brought a smile and enjoyment to whatever we were doing or when simply having a phone call . John’s first thoughts were always wanting to know how my family and I were doing or sharing what Terry and the girls were up to, rather than talking about himself . Going to college with John, I was fortunate to watch and marvel at John’s often very creative and at times, humorous efforts to woo the special Terry , and to witness his very special and unmatchable dance steps , with or without music. Being with John always ensured you would laugh or that I would become involved with some crazy surprise idea , like taking me hunting at 4 four in the morning once when I don’t hunt. I will miss my friend John and hope he knows I loved him.

  3. The West Virginia and Kanawha County Associations of Retired School Employees extend their sincere sympathy to you, the family, in your sorrow. Blessings to all.

  4. Ralph Ranson says:

    Many childhood memories of John. We were first cousins and of the same age. We played together at Grandmother Cunningham’s on College Hill and at our respective homes. He was a close boyhood friend. May he rest in peace.

  5. Tom McQuain says:

    It has been an honor to have Terry and John as our next door neighbors. What great friends they have been. I will always cherish my memories of John, especially when we played music for the neighborhood during the covid crisis. John and I had many great conversations, and his advice to me was always taken to heart. And, Terry has been a wonderful friend. Every time we see her makes our day very special. We are so grateful for the friendship connecting our homes. Love, Tom and Mary

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