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PINEBLUFF - Donald S. Cunningham, 77, of Pinebluff, died Monday, June 23, 2008, in his home. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 tonight, June 26, 2008, at Boles Funeral Home in Pinehurst. Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 27, 2008, in Pinebluff United Methodist Church in Pinebluff, with the Rev. Bill Williams officiating. Burial will follow in Pinebluff Cemetery.

Born in Ritchie County, W.Va., to Gayford and Opal Goodin Cunningham, he was preceded in death by his sister, Gwendolyn Minks; and his grandson, Spc. Alexander J. Cunningham.

Capt. Cunningham was wounded in the Korean War with the 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division as a corporal. A true paratrooper and Ranger and one of the Army's early freefall parachutists, he served with the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Japan, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division, and was one of the early graduates of the U.S. Army Special Forces School. An early innovator of the Helicopter Aerial Assault, he put his skills to use as a maverick captain. He served in the Vietnam War with Military Assistance Command Vietnam as a regimental adviser from 1963 to 1964, where he was grievously wounded. He spent the next 44 years in a wheelchair that never slowed down his service to the community.

Don was a member of Pinebluff United Methodist Church, and, when able, served as a member of the board. He served as a Scoutmaster to the boys of Boy Scout Troop 206 in Pinebluff from 1968 to 1971. Capt. Cunningham was elected the Town of Pinebluff Police Commissioner in 1968 and was elected as the mayor of Pinebluff multiple times and served until 1998. Don was always dedicated in his service to others. As a leader, a father, a politician and as a mentor to countless Boy Scouts, skydivers, soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and his family, he continued to serve others his entire life.
Capt. Cunningham is survived by his wife, Estalee Cunningham; his sons, Michael Cunningham and wife Beverly, and Kurt J. Cunningham and wife Gail; daughter, Karen G. Liles and husband Allen; his grandchildren, Samantha, Nathan and Nicholas Cunningham, Kacey and Michael Liles, and Halie Cunningham; and his grandson Alexander's wife, Michele.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the American Diabetes Association, 434 Fayetteville Street Mall, Raleigh, NC 27611; or to Pinebluff United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 165, Pinebluff, NC 28373.

Boles Funeral Home & Crematory of Southern Pines is serving the family.

(The Fayetteville Observer, Fayetteville, NC, 26 Jun 2008)

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