Ray Cunningham ’51

Walter Ray Cunningham, 86, of Charlotte, died on October 27, 2015, following complications from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Born January 25, 1929, in Bristol, Virginia, Ray was the son of Dr. John R. Cunningham and Rubie Ray Cunningham. He married Jane Crook on April 20, 1957.
He attended public schools in Winston Salem, NC, and in Davidson, NC, and graduated from Darlington Preparatory School, Rome, GA, in 1947. He graduated from Davidson College in 1951. While at Davidson, he was a member of Beta Theta Pi, a social fraternity, and Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership fraternity. A member of the swim team, he broke a pool record at USC in the 220 yard breaststroke.
He was the Freshman class advisor, vice president of the Senior class, and he was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. He served as President of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Alumni Chapter and the Davidson College Board of Visitors.
In 1986, he was awarded the Alumni Service award. Ray also attended Northwestern University and Purdue University for graduate work in banking and investments. He served three years in the U.S. Coast Guard.
He moved to Charlotte and was associated with Security Life and Trust Company and City Savings Bank before joining North Carolina National Bank (later Bank of America) in 1962. He served as a Vice President and senior trust officer for 28 years until his retirement in 1990.
Ray was an energetic member of the Charlotte community, serving as president of both the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees at Alexander Children’s Center. He also served on the Board and as the President of the Board of Directors at Sharon Towers Presbyterian Home.
Additionally, he was on the Board and President of the Charlotte Estate Planning Council. After his retirement, he was a regular volunteer for Friendship Trays. He was a faithful and longtime member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, where he served as an elder, deacon, elder emeritus, and clerk of the Session, and where he also spearheaded a successful capital campaign.
He was a member of the Charlotte Athletic Club, the Piedmont Club and Independent Investors. He was also an active member of the Charlotte Country Club, where he served on the Board of Governors and on the Membership Committee.
Laughter was always center stage in his life. His quick wit and sense of humor endeared him to many. He loved to tease, play pranks and was a master storyteller, always able to draw gales of laughter from his willing listeners.
Family and friends figured prominently in his life; he and his wife Jane gathered people together time and time again, in Charlotte, Lake Wylie or at the beach. In return, he was blessed with a devoted family and numerous friends.
Ray was also fiercely competitive; he never played a game he didn’t want to win! He loved the beauty of God’s creation and preferred to spend his free time outdoors.
A lifelong athlete, he played tennis and squash, loved snow skiing and waterskiing with his family, and windsurfed at Figure Eight Island until his health precluded it.
After retiring, Ray enjoyed traveling with friends and family. Preceding him in death were his parents and his three siblings: Harriet Inscoe of Morganton, NC; John Cunningham, Jr., of Rome, GA; William (Bill) Cunningham of Amelia Island, FL; and son-in-law Floyd (Casey) Wood of Gainesville, FL.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jane Crook Cunningham; daughters, Beth C. Wood of Gainesville, FL, and Susan C. Owen (Franklyn III) of Columbia, SC; grandchildren, Libby Wood, Elizabeth C. (Betsy) Owen, and Franklyn D. Owen, IV; sister-in-law Terri Cunningham of Amelia Island, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The Cunningham family would like to thank Always Best Care and Hospice and Palliative Care Charlotte for the loving care he received. A memorial service will be held at eleven o’clock on Monday, November 2, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 1000 East Morehead Street in Charlotte. A reception will follow in the church Fellowship Hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Friendship Trays, 2401 A Distribution Street, Charlotte, NC 28203, Sharon Towers Resident’s Assistance Fund, 5100 Sharon Road, Charlotte, NC 28210 or to Davidson College Development Office, PO Box 7174, Davidson, NC 28035 for the John Rood and Rubie Ray Cunningham Scholarship.
Published in Charlotte Observer on Oct. 30, 2015