William Clay Cunningham ’57

William Clay Cunningham, 79, of Amelia Island, Florida passed away on Oct. 23, 2014 surrounded by his loving family. For the past 7 years, he battled Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis with dignity and grace.


Bill was born on June7, 1935 in Louisville, KY to John Rood Cunningham and Ruby Ray Cunningham.


He is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Terri Cunningham, and his four children, Cathy (Rob) Stangroom of Bluffton, SC; Elizabeth (John) Kinney of Apex; NC, Pat (Dan) Jackson of Hilton Head Island, SC; and Bill (Cindy) Cunningham, Jr. of the USVI and his seven grandchildren, Chris (Lindsay) and Caileigh Stangroom, Andrew and Philip Kinney, and Daniel, Charlie and Ben Jackson. Bill is also survived by brother and sister-in-law, Ray and Jane Cunningham, and many loving nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister, Harriet (Linwood) Inscoe, and his brother, John (Gladys) Cunningham.

Bill attended The Darlington School, Davidson College and graduated from Michigan State University.


Before starting his professional career he served in the Army for two years in the Criminal Investigation Division at Fort Myer, VA. His first professional position was Director of Personnel in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He then moved on to a consulting firm in the Washington, DC, area, focusing on criminal justice and police protection work. He was involved in the development of mobile terminals for police cruisers, executive protection strategies and counterterrorism.

For 35 years he owned his own consulting firm, which specialized in international security, police protection and counterterrorism. He was a principal author of widely acclaimed publications in the policing and private security fields. He has been featured on NBC, CNN, CBS, and ABC and in Forbes, US News and World Report, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Fortune Magazine. Bill was selected as the 1998 recipient of the “Distinguished Achievement Award” presented by the International Security Management Association.

In 2003, he was inducted into the Wall of Fame at the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University, and in 2008 Bill was selected by Security Magazine as one of the “25 most influential people in the security industry”. After retirement he did volunteer service as a dispute resolution specialist and court mediator certified by the Supreme Court of Florida.

Bill loved skiing, hiking, playing tennis, reading, sharing the beauty of Amelia Island, and being surrounded by his family.


A memorial service was held on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 11:00 am, First Presbyterian Church, 9 N. Sixth St., Amelia Island, Florida. A reception followed at the church in Jim Thomas Hall.


In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis (www.coalitionforpf.org), First Presbyterian Church of Fernandina Beach or a charity of one’s choice.