Gladys Cunningham, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, lifelong
educator, and active community member, passed away at home on May 30, 2023 in Fritch, Texas.
Memorial services will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors.
Gladys was born on September 19, 1933, near Pampa, Texas. Gladys was the daughter of hardworking parents who instilled in her a strong work ethic and a passion for learning and teaching others.
As a girl growing up during both the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Gladys grew up with a resilient spirit and a determination to make a difference in her community. Indeed, while in high school, Gladys shone as a scholar, a basketball player, and a member of the marching band.
Gladys met the love of her life Chester Cunningham at Eastern New Mexico State, where they both were pursuing their master’s degrees. They married in 1961 and began their journey as best friends, partners, and educators committed to making a difference in children’s lives. After Gladys and Chester married, they accepted teaching jobs in Las Vegas, Nevada, but Gladys was always looking for the opportunity to return to Texas Panhandle and their families.
In 1963, Gladys and Chester returned to Texas. Over the next fifty years, Gladys and Chester taught and served in various roles in Canyon, Dalhart, Stratford, Estelline, Borger, and Fritch public school systems. Gladys and Chester also welcomed their children Nora and Eddie during this time. Gladys then devoted herself to being a full-time mother. Gladys was, indeed, the epitome of a loving mother and grandmother; she once told her son Eddie that, “you need to give your kids hugs whether or not they think they need them.” Gladys loved her children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews fiercely, giving unlimited hugs and love to all of the young people who crossed her orbit.
Gladys was famous for her cooking, including cornbread dressing, Christmas candies, and roast dinners on Sundays, recipes she shared with love with family members in the years to follow. After Eddie and Nora were school aged, Gladys resumed her teaching career. While at Borger ISD, Gladys created the district’s Gifted and Talented Program and inspired hundreds of children with the love of reading and learning.
Gladys retired from full time teaching in 2012 to spend more time with her two children and four grandchildren, but her dedication to her lifting up others in her community never wavered. Indeed, Gladys raised thousands of dollars for the Harrington Cancer and Health Foundation serving with the HOPE Partnership. She was also a teacher at the Jordan Prison. She also remained deeply involved in the Fritch Church of Christ; her faith was an essential guidepost to her throughout her life. Gladys especially loved traveling across the country with her daughter Nora to watch all her four grandchildren play sports; she became a fan favorite at Texas Men’s Basketball games, where she was an exceptional cheerleader for her oldest grandson, Brock Cunningham. Truth to be told, Gladys brought the same enthusiasm to her grandchildren (and honorary grandchildren)’s football, soccer, 4-H shows, and art projects. Gladys showed up with love, pride, and enthusiasm anywhere the people she loved were, and we were all better and more whole for that.
Gladys is survived by her children Nora Cunningham, Ed Cunningham along with his wife Aimee and Gladys’s beloved grandchildren Brock, Haden, Carson, and Lochlann Cunningham. She also leaves a large and loving extended family, including every person whom Gladys claimed as her honorary grandchild. Gladys is preceded in death by her beloved husband, Chester Cunningham, who passed away on March 21, 2020.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that everyone live Gladys’s values in hugging the children in their lives, whether or not those children think they need those hugs.
Loved ones may also donate a tree in memory of Gladys to www.greeningisrael.com or memorials to the Gladys and Chester Cunningham Scholarship Fund in Amarillo, Texas, care of Amarillo Area Foundation, which will support graduates from Fritch High School in attending college. Donations may be directed to 801 S. Fillmore, Suite 700, Amarillo, TX, 79101, or provided online by visiting https://amarilloareafoundation.org/donate/.