Obituary: Doris Cunningham
Doris Roper Cunningham, a Kingman-area resident since 1954, passed away on Dec. 2, 2013 at the age of 98. She lived through the Roaring '20s, the Great Depression, World Wars I and II and watched men walk on the moon. Doris was born on Flag Day, June 14, in 1915 and came to Kingman with her husband, John J. Cunningham Jr., in 1954 with a 1949 Ford pickup, a U-Haul trailer and some apple baskets packed with 1940s dishes and glassware (martini glasses included). Many Kingman residents will remember Doris from her years as the manager of the Mohave Federal Community Credit Union, the legal secretary for local attorney and former County Attorney Carl Hammond, or just that woman dancing with her husband, John, every year at the Elks Charity Ball.
Her late husband, John Cunningham Jr., was born in Kingman in 1922 in his parent's house on Chestnut Street when part of the house was still a tent. John passed away in 2004. His parents, John Sr. and Myrtle Cunningham, came to Kingman in 1917. John Sr. worked in a Kingman bank, as the elected county assessor and as the clerk of the Board of Supervisors until his death in 1957. Neither John Jr. nor John Sr. ever passed up a card game at the Elks Club.
Doris was born to her parents, Church and Florence (Middlemist) Roper in Minneapolis, Minn., and traced her family roots back to the Revolutionary War through the Middlemist family. Doris' great-great grandfather fought with the revolutionary militia in the summers of both 1775 and 1776 in the Boston Campaign. Doris grew up in Detroit, where her father worked for the Ray Day Piston Co., and she learned to drive a car on a 12-cylinder Marmon Motor Car. Their former family home still stands at 16803 Muirland Ave. in Detroit.
Doris graduated from Thomas Cooley High School in Detroit in May of 1933, where she was president of the Library Club and took four years of Latin. She was in the class of 1937 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Mich., and later attended business school in Muncie, Ind.
When growing up, she saw Ty Cobb play baseball, saw the Michigan Wolverines play football and attended two Rose Bowls. When asked recently whether she ever saw Babe Ruth play baseball in Detroit, she responded that she never went to see him play because people from Detroit hate the Yankees!
Starting in 1937, she worked in a law office as a legal secretary, and she worked on the bankruptcy case for the carmaker Stutz Bearcat. Doris later moved to Denver in 1944 and worked for the Rio Grande Railroad for nearly 10 years. It was there in Denver that she went on a double blind date to Estes Park with a friend and met some guy named John Cunningham.
Doris started as a volunteer for the Mohave Federal Community Credit Union in 1962 and went on to serve on the board of directors as secretary from 1992 until 2010. In between, she served as the treasurer and manager of the credit union from 1964 until her retirement in 1981.
Doris is survived by her son Jack, who cared for Doris in her home since 2005; her son Pat and daughter-in-law Mary Ellen, who live in Scottsdale; and their two daughters, Mary Kate and Meaghan, who live in Washington, D.C. Her nieces Carol Fuerstenberg (Mike) of Tempe and Lucy Hackley of Kingman (daughter of former Palo Christi teacher Sharon Hackley) also spent much time with Doris in recent years in her home outside of Kingman. She is also survived by her nephew Mike Hackley (Debbi) of San Antonio, Texas; her brother Dick and sister-in-law Rene's children: nephew Tom Roper (wife Bonnie) of Santa Barbara, Calif., niece Jennifer Apodaca (Dan) of Lake Elsinore, Calif., and niece Carol Raney (Steve) of Corona, Calif.
Her sister Edith, brother-in-law Richard and their children Sandy and John, her brother Dick and sister-in-law Rene and their son Richard preceded her in death.
Doris and John, Edith and Richard, Dick and Rene were all connected to the Middlemist family that built this country in the 18th century, and now all are gone. For their own part, they were members of the greatest generation that led this country through the 20th century: through depression, four wars, economic resurgence and raising their "baby boomer" children that brought us the upheaval that was the 1960s.
A celebration of life for Doris will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22 at Elks Lodge No. 468, 900 Gates Ave. in Kingman. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made either to the Mohave Museum of History and Arts, 400 W. Beale St., Kingman, AZ 86401, or the KRMC Hospice, 3269 Stockton Hill Rd., Kingman, AZ 86401.