Gary Cunningham, 76, passed away on July 1, 2020 in Mesa, Arizona after a lengthy battle with ALS. He was the devoted husband of Marilyn Cunningham. Gary and Marilyn were married in 1964 and they shared 56 wonderful and adventure-filled years together.
Born in Brookings, South Dakota, he was the youngest son of Roy and Alyce Cunningham. Gary graduated from Brookings High School where he was a prominent member of the football team. He went on to receive an undergraduate degree in horticulture from South Dakota State University and then earned his M.S in plant science from the University of Delaware. Beginning his career as a field inspector with the United States Department of Agriculture led to living in many states around the country and travelling around the globe. Gary retired as the National Coordinator for Boll Weevil Eradication for APHIS in 1999.
Upon retiring, Gary found his true calling as the “Gourd Guy.” He grew all types of gourds that he decorated, sold and displayed throughout the country. Wherever he went he brought smiles to the faces of everyone he met – young and old alike. He will be remembered for his silly sense of humor and willingness to jump into almost any situation with abandon.
Gary is survived by his wife Marilyn, daughter Sheila, son Greg, and his grandson Bryce. He is also survived by his three siblings, Carolyn, Harvey and Vernon.
A celebration of life will be held at 1 p.m. on July 31, 2021, at 721 Goldenrod Trail in Brookings. Memorial donations may be made to your local chapter of the ALS Association as they continue to help others with this terrible disease. Most importantly, spread some sunshine wherever you can. The value of happiness and helping others can never be underestimated.