John A. Cunningham, age 77, of Arapahoe, Nebraska died on March 20, 2016, at the Kearney Regional Hospital of Kearney, Nebraska.  He was born on May 14, 1938 in Cambridge, Nebraska to V. Sam & Helen C. (Heiselman) Cunningham.


John grew up in Arapahoe and became a star quarterback for the high school team. He would graduate from Arapahoe High School with the Class of 1956. After graduation, he attended the Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln and studied restorative therapy.


He moved to Roseburg, Oregon where he worked as a therapist at the Veteran’s Hospital, while also volunteering as a local fireman. He married Rikki Hukari in 1962 and to this union 2 children were born; Jon & Rene. In 1968, he transferred to the Veteran’s Hospital in Danville, Illinois continuing his work as therapist. He worked there until taking a job with General Motors. He and his wife would divorce in 1969. In 1970, John began working in the foundry at Fairbanks in Beloit, Wisconsin. He then met and married Mary-Lynn Gowman, and to this union 4 children were born; Bob, Brenda, Shawn, and Chad. They relocated several times for his work, then ultimately residing in South Beloit, Illinois.


John had several jobs including Beloit Corp and bar tending part time at the local Pub. Several years he coached his son Bob’s record winning little league team. After he and his wife separated in 1983, he returned to his hometown of Arapahoe.


John and his youngest son, Chad, spent time hunting and fishing. He would also assisted his father at the family feed store “Cunningham’s Feed”, and eventually taking over when Sam retired. After the store closed, John worked and eventually was a manager for Nebraska Pork Partners of Arapahoe. He served as a volunteer Fireman and EMT for Arapahoe during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. He retired in 2009 and subsequently became the maintenance and groundskeeper for the Arapahoe Airport Authority.


John loved weightlifting, fishing, hunting, and spending time with his golden retriever(s). He was a loyal friend to many and was extremely passionate about his cars. He took great pride in displaying them and the great friendships he gained along the way. However, his greatest love was for his children. He was a wonderful father and grandfather.


He is preceded in death by his parents, and beloved dogs Sadie and Amber.


John is survived by son; Bob Cunningham, of Beloit, Wisconsin, daughters Brenda Anderson and husband Mark of Beloit, Wisconsin, Shawn Cunningham and significant other Patrick White and his sons Gabe and Tristian, and son Chad Cunningham and fiancé Nidia Garcia of Oxford, Nebraska, son Jon Patee of Bakersfield, California, and daughter Rene Patee of Oregon.

Grandchildren: Kayla, Cody, Skyler, Makenna, Brayden, Sophia, & Brynnlie.

Aunt: Faye Loreen Lockenour of Arapahoe, Nebraska


Condolences or personal reflections can be left at


Viewing and visitation will Friday, March 25, 2016 from 10 AM till 8 PM at Wenburg Funeral Home in Arapahoe, Nebraska and prior to the service at the church. Services will be held Saturday, March 26, 2016, at 10 am at the First United Methodist Church in Arapahoe, Nebraska with Rev. Becky Saddler officiating.  Interment will follow at Arapahoe Cemetery, at Arapahoe, Nebraska. Wenburg Funeral Home of Arapahoe, NE, is in charge of the arrangements.