Ogle Lester Cunningham

 Ogle Lester Cunningham’s memorial service will be held 2PM, Saturday, April 10, 2010 at Loma Vista Baptist Church, 8622 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown, MO 64138

It is with great sorrow that we, the family of Ogle Lester (Les) Cunningham, announce his passing on April 1, 2010. He leaves behind two children, Beth Cooper and Steve Cunningham, five grandchildren, Billie Jo Ramirez, Chris Cunningham, Joshua Cunningham, Sarah Cooper, and Rachel Cooper and four great-grandchildren.

Born in the city of Sedalia, Missouri (9/18/1932), the son of Ogle Wagner and Mary Alice Cunningham, he moved with his parents to Kansas City during his first year of life. Soon after, a young family moved next door that included a baby girl named Patricia Ausman. The two children, less than a year apart in age, grew to be playmates. Pat recalls specifically one day after Les had started attending 1st grade waiting on her steps for him to come home from school. She was adjusting to her playmate being away all day long. She saw him turn the corner at the bottom of the hill. She ran down the street to meet him and noticed tear tracks down his face, clearly visible from the dirt covering his face. She asked him, “What are you crying about?” He responded, “I wasn’t crying”. Pat moved away not long after that but she had a lasting impression on him as he later asked her to become his wife. Les continued to live in the area eventually graduating from Paseo High School in 1949. He was voted “Best Actor” his senior year for his great performances in the high school’s drama department.

Upon graduating he enlisted in the Marine Corps to help out with the Korean Conflict, although he never left the San Diego area during his 14 month enlistment. He always claimed that he performed his duties noting that the North Koreans never once invaded California while he was there. Following his patriotic duties he decided to attend college choosing Baylor University in Waco, Texas as he was considering going into ministry work. He completed three year of school work before deciding to come back home, giving up on the idea of a career in ministry. That summer (1954) is when he asked Pat, his childhood playmate, to go on a date. By May of 1955 they were married. Even though his time both in the Marines and at Baylor was short he remained a proud supporter of both institutions throughout his lifetime.

His marriage to Pat yielded two children. Their daughter Beth was born in 1957 followed by a son, Steve, in 1960. Not long after Beth was born they lived for less than a year in California. Pregnant with Steve, Pat and Les moved back to Kansas City (1959).

After raising his family, Les eventually moved to San Diego, occupying an apartment in the Old Town District that overlooked the bay and San Diego airport. There are numerous hours of video tape of nothing but planes landing at the airport to the sound of birds chirping interrupted from time to time by Les’s voice talking about how great the weather was. While in San Diego he took a job working at the Marine Corp Museum located at the San Diego Recruiting Depot. His contributions to the museum through collecting memorabilia from retired officers took the reputation of the museum to new heights. In his role as curator for the museum he was able to address every recruiting class telling them the history of the Corps. He took great pride in this task. In addition, his compassion was shown in that he would hold a pizza party for any graduating soldier whose parents were unable to attend the graduation ceremonies. He did not like the idea of a graduating recruit going back to an empty barrack while other graduates were out celebrating with family. This illustrates the care he had for others.

His involvement in church work was strongly influenced by his mother, Mary Alice. During his life there were four churches in which he was very active. Tabernacle Baptist was his first church. He served in that church from his crawling days up through the birth of his daughter, Beth. Some of his best friends were other people who grew up with him at Tabernacle. He loved to share stories from those days. Many of the friends of our family were people who had attended Tabernacle during that time.  Not long after the birth of his son, Steve, Les and his family began attending Leawood Baptist Church. It was there that he was ordained as a deacon. Then, in 1970 the family joined Besonia Baptist Church, at the corner of Bannister Road and Raytown Road. His leadership continued as he led the way to create and develop a puppet ministry and a bus ministry. He was always looking for new ways for the church to minister to people and constantly looked for the church music programs to utilize the latest technologies. In 1973, the family moved their church membership to Loma Vista Baptist Church. In all of the churches he attended he was an active leader, not afraid to express his views. He enjoyed singing in the choirs and was always a supporter of music ministries. He was well liked and respected by the congregations as a leader, deacon and a teacher.

One other organization he supported for many years was the Boy Scouts of America. From his first exposure to the program as Steve started his way through Cub Scouts, Les served in every leadership role possible. For a short time he created and led a scout troop at Loma Vista Baptist Church and completed the adult leadership training known as Wood Badge. He left an incredible impact on hundreds of boys through his involvement in Scouting. He pushed boys to be the best they could be and to understand that they had the wherewithal to succeed as a Boy Scout. He was very intelligent and able to assist with a wide variety of merit badge work. One notable and often remembered merit badge he would “guarantee” a boy to earn at summer camp was geology. Les could identify any rock. He would give a boy a small hammer and tell him to go find some rocks. The boy would begin a trek back and forth, bringing rock after rock to Les for identification to add to the required rock collection. Les was also a financial supporter of the Bartle Camp honor program called Mic-O-Say. He held the program in high esteem and honored its principles and ideals to help teach boys how to be responsible to God, Country, mothers and other younger and weaker scouts. Yes, Les loved Boy Scouts, loved summer camp but mostly loved teaching boys about life.

He had many other interests that included stamp and coin collecting, model railroading, home wine making and growing plants. Among many of his hobbies one that will have a far reaching and lasting impact is his role as the family historian. In the last few years of his life he learned how to utilize a computer to compile all of the family history, building a family tree that includes over 300 names. He has preserved many family photos and documents that go back four generations. His contributions to generating a comprehensive family tree have aided other family members in their quest for family information. Future generations of the family will be indebted to him for his work in this area.

During his travels with his career as a salesman he had the privilege of meeting some very well known people, from entertainers such as Milton Berle to politicians including US Vice Presidents , US Congressmen and state governors to great sports legends. He always had a story to tell if someone was willing to listen and a great sense of humor that would put people at ease.

Les’s life left indelible marks on the lives of people with which he came in contact. He was an imparter of knowledge and will be remembered as such. May he rest in eternal peace.

In Lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to: Loma Vista Baptist Church or Boy Scouts of America

Visits: 1


  1. Steve Cunningham on April 4, 2010 at 12:10 am

    I will miss you, Dad. We shared a lot of good memories. Rest in His love, now.

  2. Kathi Baumgardner-Marriott on April 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    Dear Steve I’m sorry for your loss your fater Les sounded like an amazing man. I’m sur he is reasting in the arms of our lord at peace and watching over his blessing on earth.

  3. David Eskelin on April 7, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Your dad sounds like he was a good man. I know you will miss him.

  4. Debby Williams Henderson on April 7, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    What a great honor to have such great memories of your dad. It sounds like he had such a love for God and all mankind. Enjoy your precious memories Steve and family.

  5. Sharon Seller on April 8, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Beth and Steve, you are in my prayers. We had a great childhood growing up across the street from each other and I have many fond memories of your dad. One in particular was his bob white whistle to call the kids home. May he rest in peace.

  6. Mary Lemmons on April 8, 2010 at 6:20 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with you durint this time of loss. May God bless you.

  7. Tammy Sieg Walker on April 8, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Beth and Steve, I am sorry for your loss. You know he will always be with you and the memories will always be there for you. Our prayers are with you and your families during this time.

  8. Lori Rey Givan on April 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Steve, I will always remember how proud your dad was of you on the day you became an Eagle Scout. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Beth and your families.

  9. Lori Rey Givan on April 8, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Steve, I will always remember how proud your dad was of you on the day you became an Eagle Scout. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Beth and your families.

  10. Alfred Deuel on April 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I remember I was with the family of Cunningham and Deuel including Uncles and Aunts in the dinning room at the residence of Uncle Carl and Aunt Sarah . we were gathered to dine together. I was about 8 years old to enjoy with Ogle lester Cunningham, he showed his great personality to his first cousins, John, Harold and me. we love him.I have a picture of all relatives.

  11. Edwin Nesselroad on April 8, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Les was a great presence in my early life. During Cunningham gatherings, he spent time with me, told me stories, took me for drives, and even let me play his ukelele. Later in life, we connected in Colorado and I remember his fascination at seeing the landmarks he had read about in the book, Centennial. More recently, I enjoyed his family research and stories about the clan Cunningham.
    It is so hard for a son to lose a dad…my thoughts are with you, Steve, and all the family who carries Les in memory.
    Semper Fi, Les.

  12. Edwin Nesselroad on April 8, 2010 at 11:03 am

    He shall call upon me and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation. Psalm 91

  13. Bob Gadd on April 8, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Went to Tabernacle Baptist with Les during our High School days. Jack Nessleroad told me of his passing – rest in peace!

  14. Marvin Carpenter on April 8, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    He was always
    Ogle Lester at Tabernacle Baptist in KCMO. I lost track of him for a long time, so it was nice to read he
    had a good life and a fine family. I too was a Marine.
    I think our teenage years were very lucky to have been spent at Tabernacle Baptist.
    Seems like many of us stayed within
    the church through the years. Semper Fi Ogle Lester

  15. W. R. (Bill) Deuel, Sr on April 8, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    I remember when OL used to come to Sedalia to visit and the great times we had together. He being an only child and us being 7 boys, we gave him a tough time.
    In the later years, he and I both traveled in sales and I would look forward to the times I would go through Kansas and be able to catch him on the CB radio and stop and visit.
    He will remain in the memories of the Deuel brothers for ever and will be sadly missed bu all.

  16. Linda Thomas-Narron on April 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Dear Steve, I am so sorry for your loss. Your father may not be of this world but you will always carry him in your heart. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. God Bless you and keep you strong.

  17. Tam Daughtrey on April 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Beth and Steve ~ So sorry for your loss, but what an impact he had on so many lives. I bet your dad is telling stories in Heaven. Thinking of you!Love, Tam

  18. Jack & Ruthie Nesserload on April 9, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    As I remember Les and I and our families spent a lot of time attending Tabernacle Baptist Church in KCMO. Actually, we grew up there so I go back a long way with Les. What a full and positive life he led and influenced so many people is so many ways. He will be greatly missed.
    Jack & Ruthie Nesselroad

  19. Bill Wallen on April 9, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    I knew Les from the time I was about 10 years old. His legacy is evident in the family he leaves behind. Beth and Steve, my prayers for you and yours.

  20. Wesley Kelly on April 9, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  21. Valerie Hastings on April 9, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. what a rich life your father lived and gave to your family. May God Bless your family and walk with you as you deal with this loss.

  22. Dick Cunningham on April 10, 2010 at 8:31 am

    I was so happy to have been able to visit Les in Oct 2009. I had not seen him since 1952 and we had a very nice visit. He was instumental in helping me prepare my Family tree which is online at ancestry.com Lynn and I send out condolences and best wishes to all off his family.

  23. Linda Kelly on April 10, 2010 at 8:58 am

    My thoughts and prayers will be with you and your family.

  24. Deborah Hellinger on April 10, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my prayers.

  25. Paul and Sharon Clouse on April 10, 2010 at 11:29 am

    What a wonderful memorial, our hearts and prayers are with you and yours

  26. Roxanne Zeimet on April 13, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Beth, I am so sorry to hear of your father’s passing. He led a very full and wonderful life. He will always be with you.
    Love, Roxanne

  27. Remedies on August 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Helpful information. Lucky me I discovered your website unintentionally, and I’m shocked why this coincidence did not happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

  28. Steve Cunningham on April 10, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Thinking of you, today, Dad. It is 8 years since the memorial service. I still miss you. You would be so proud of all of your grandkids… they have grown into such good, responsible adults: Billie Jo… five kids and a wonderful mother, You would be having so much fun with her children; Chris, a lawyer and now engaged; Josh, an expert consultant in the field of education and his three kids… heading out to Colorado to visit in two weeks; Sarah, living in Chicago and enjoying life; Rachel, living in your favorite city, San Diego, not too far from the beach. Well, I can only imagine what your “day” is like, but I trust you will enjoy it. I will enjoy mine, as well.
    Love you always,

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