Phyllis M. Cunningham, a longtime resident of Marcus and Colville, passed away peacefully during sleep on August 17, 2014 at her Gold Creek Loop home with family, after a battle of almost two years with cancer. She was under the gentle and excellent care of Hospice of Spokane at her home during this time.
Phyllis was born Oct. 6, 1941 in Walla Walla to Joseph B. Sailor and Cora E. (Wood) Sailor. She grew up in Marcus from age four, next door to the Boicourt family, and where her parÂ¬ents were custodian and elementary teacher. She attended Marcus Grade School and High School until her senior year.
Her last year of high school was at Upper Columbia Academy in Spangle.
She loved the outdoors and spent two summers as a fire lookÂ¬out on Flagstaff Mountain near Northport.
Phyllis attended Walla Walla College for three years, majorÂ¬ing in education. There, she met her husband, Robert (Bob) Lee Cunningham, Jr. They were wed June 7, 1962, three dayâs after Bobâs graduation. They moved to Tacoma, where Bob was employed by the USGS Water Resources Division. While in TaÂ¬coma, she taught elementary grades as a substitute teacher at Tacoma Adventist School.
Bobâs employment took the family to Spokane, where their son, Joseph (Joe) L. Cunningham, was born. While in SpoÂ¬kane, Phyllis again, as a substitute teacher, taught elementary school at Spokane Junior Academy. Two years later, the family moved to Burien, where their daughter, Judith (Judy)L. (CunÂ¬ningham) Bitton, was born. Later on, their third child, Jay L. Cunningham, was born in Pocatello, ID. In Blackfoot, ID, Phyllis was also a substitute teacher and was one of the top Avon ladies in Eastern Idaho. Bobâs work then took the family to Green River, WY. At that point, after the many moves, plans were made to return to Washington to live, especially in the Bossburg/Marcus/Colville area where her parents, her sister and brother-in-law, Fred Carroll, and many relatives resided.
Phyllis was very active in her church, was a childrenâs teacher and was a 4-H leader. She enjoyed helping 4-Hâers show their animals at the Northeast Washington Fair and iniÂ¬tiated the first showing of goat keeping at the Fair. At one time, she had over 20 goats; milkers and babies on the Gold Creek farm.
Phyllis helped the family income with sales of goats, leatherÂ¬craft and the raising of registered Japanese Chin dogs. She also was a substitute teacher at Colville Adventist School.
A severe auto accident in 1980 slowed her down somewhat, but Phyllis still was able to travel in the Tri-county area, where she received the top award for Christian Book sales in NorthÂ¬east Washington in 1987. She thoroughly enjoyed meeting her customers and having prayer with them. A bad fall during this time limited her mobility and she was confined mostly to her living room chair, where she could look outside toward SpanÂ¬ish Prairie and Rattlesnake Mountain, and toward her fishÂ¬ponds. During this time, she kept busy crocheting Afghans for family and friends. As she worked, she prayed for these loved ones and saw the results of her many prayers. One of her hobÂ¬bies was reading the Bible through and highlighting the key thoughts. When she finished one Bible, she would start anÂ¬other.
Many people can remember her telling them, âYou are lovedâ. Her main goal in life was to love and encourage her family and all others that she met. She was able to reach out to discouraged and troubled people, young and old, and was known as a wonderful âhuggerâ. In 2013, she realized the dream of a lifeÂ¬time to travel and visit Arizona with the help of many friends and her family.
Phyllis was preceded in death by her parents and her sister,Margaret (Sailor) Carroll of Bossburg.
She is survived by her husband, Bob Cunningham, after 52 years of marriage; her three children, Joe, Judy and Jay; six grandchildren, Darlene Bitton, Michael Bitton, Jordan Cunningham, Jaxlynn Cunningham, Chase Cunningham, Chloe Cunningham; two daughters-in-law, Charissa Cunningham, Marinda Cunningham; son-in-law, William (Bill) Bitton; five nieces; Mary (Sam) Peterson, Bossburg; Helen Barber, SpoÂ¬kane; Judy Castle, Trail B.C.; Donna Hopkins, Bossburg; Debbie Bluher, Tri-Cities, and numerous other cousins and relatives. She was especially close to her cousins, Kay Wagoner, Walla Walla, and Ellie Walker, Walla Walla. The three cousins were all born in the same year about a month apart.
Vault interment will be at Mountain View Cemetery in a private ceremony, with Pastor Octavian Poenaru officiating.
A memorial service to celebrate Phyllisâ life will be held at the Colville Seventh-day Adventist Church with Pastor Daniel Knapp officiating on Sept. 14 at 1 p.m.
Because of her lifelong interest and participation with young people and education, a memorial foundation in her name is being funded.
Please visit the on-line memorial and sign the guestbook at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com.
Danekas Funeral Chapel and Crematory has been entrusted with the arrangements.