May 1934 - June 2020
R.D. Cunningham entered into the nearer presence of our Lord on June 27, 2020 in Kerrville, Texas. A 6th generation Texan, he was born on May 12, 1934 in Bon Wier and raised in San Augustine by his parents Rufus Darnell Cunningham and Adelia “Pinkie” Davis Inman Cunningham.
R.D. was the youngest child, much adored by his parents and older sisters. As teenagers, the siblings sang together at local churches. R.D. was a talented baseball player with a mean left-handed pitch. When his father died suddenly in 1945, he helped support his family working after school for a local businessman. After high school, he joined the United States Navy where he proudly served in the Seabees for 20 years, earning the rank of Chief Petty Officer.
R.D.’s naval service included tours in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, California, Washington, D.C. and Texas. His distinguished career included time as an instructor, in recruitment, and working on highly sensitive construction projects for the U.S. Navy Seals and the Atomic Energy Commission. He was recognized for valor with the Republic of Vietnam Technical Service Honors Medal and the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V device for leading actions which saved a 75-vehicle convoy during an attack by the Viet Cong on Highway 1, which he helped build. R.D. also led a successful escape attempt after he and his work crew were captured in the jungle by Viet Cong soldiers and were being marched towards a prison camp further inside Vietnam. Despite his wounds, he ensured the safety of all the sailors in his command and their return to their unit. He was proud that in two tours in Vietnam, he never lost a sailor in his charge.
After the service, he settled in Livingston, Texas where he served as a county commissioner. In 1998, he retired and relocated to New Mexico, where he met his wife, Laura. They enjoyed 22 happy years together, returning to Texas in 2007.
He is preceded in death by his parents, daughter Tammy, grandson Stephen, sisters Calla Dee Burkett and husband Charlton, Bobbye Reynolds and husband Carl, Ruby Cook and husband John, brothers Jack Cunningham and Elmer Inman and wife Verna. He is survived by his wife, Laura Proffit Cunningham of Kerrville, Texas, step-son Robert Proffit and wife Marietta, step-daughter Debbie and husband Jerry Lerud, daughters Susan Cunningham and Jessica Miller and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the doctors and staff at the Kerrville VA Hospital and Peterson Regional Hospital, Nurse Allison from Peterson Hospice and the Hilltop Village Nursing and Rehabilitation Center team for their care and support.
R.D. will have a military burial at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. A memorial service at Sunrise Baptist Church in Kerrville will be held at a future date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, any donations be made to an organization of your choice that supports veterans, particularly those suffering from Agent Orange exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Condolences may be sent at www.grimesfuneralchapels.com by selecting the “Send Condolences” link.
Funeral arrangements are entrusted to Grimes Funeral Chapels of Kerrville.