Ogle Lester Cunningham
Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute
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