In the early hours of May 4th, 2022, James Michael Cunningham, "Mikey, Big Poppa, Big Mike, Pop, Dada" went to be with our Lord and savior Jesus at the age of 77yrs old.
Mike was born in Kansas City, Missouri on March 30, 1945 at the Willows Maternity Home, also known as "The Mansion on the Hill", where he was 1 of 35,000 babies that was put into adoption. His adopted parents were James P. Cunningham and Dorothy E. Cunningham. His adopted dad was "the man with the roar of a Lion" who was a huge impact on him and he loved him tremendously. Mike was able to contact his birth mother a few years back to thank her for having him, and to tell her he had a beautiful & exciting life. She told him she never wanted to give him away, which was a precious healing of his soul. They kept in touch until her passing in March of 2015.
Mike wore his adoption with pride and said "They picked me, where some parents just get what they get!" His older surviving sister, Barbara, who is 14 years his elder (and 3 years younger than their adopted mother), was also born at the Willows. He has a surviving older brother, Jack, who was also adopted by the Cunninghams as well.
Mike grew up in Burbank, CA and lived there most of his life until he moved to Easley SC with his beautiful bride Carol, to be closer to his sister Barbara and to move away from the craziness of California.
Mike started school at Cheviot Hills Military Academy from a young age of 5 years old. He cried every night from being home sick, but said in the final analysis, the military discipline served him well and established a foundation for him to build his character and future career. His mom pulled him out knowing the hardship of being away from home and started him at Lincoln Elementary, where he fell in love for the first time, with Miss. Healthalfinger, his kindergarten teacher! In fifth grade, his mom went back to work and Mike & Jack were sent to Saint John Bosco's School for Boys in Bellflower, CA.
This is where he met "Brother Tony", who was extremely muscular. Mike said he could hear him in his dormitory lifting weights each night, set after set. He said "Tony had the biggest biceps I had ever seen and I was going to be just like Brother Tony when he grows up!" The love affair of body building began at an early age for Mike and never stopped until his body just wouldn't let him do it any longer. Mike competed in the U.S. Powerlifting Championships in 2000 where he won the Grand Masters Division and set the state record in the bench press at the ripe age of 55 years old! At 6'1 and weighing in at 275lbs of mostly muscle (and a little fluff around the belly) he says he came from good stock from his birth parents. He never knew his biological father, but now they are reunited in heaven.
Mike ended up going to Hoover High School in Glendale, Ca. He used his toughness as an asset and got himself a spot on the football team. That is another beginning love story for the sport of football. He had season tickets for years to watch USC play in the LA Coliseum and raised his kids loving the sport with a little smack talk in the stands as well.
He started his first job as a box boy at 15. He graduated in 1963 and enlisted himself into the Army. He quickly became the platoon sergeant, qualified as an expert rifleman with the M14 and was accepted into the data processing school at Fort Monmouth, NJ. This served as the basis for his future career. His training continued with working on the "Moby Dick" (Mobile Digital Computer) which was the groundwork for the systems our troops carry into battle today! Mike also worked at "site R" with Top Secret Siop ESI Security clearance in a bomb proof building in the middle of a mountain where he worked on a nuclear war plan. He was promoted to E5 sergeant until being discharged in 1966 .
He met and married Diane in 1968 who would be the loving mother to his two children, Todd and Nicole. He states "that was the 2 greatest things that ever happened to him, and he thanks the Lord for the gift". He stayed great friends with Diane over the decades and even after their divorce would spend holidays together.
His career was taking off in the Data processing at United California Bank and was in charge of developing the new savings systems for the bank. 10 years later he became the Senior Vice President and MIS director. As years passed, Mike became the Executive Vice President and went into the Holding Company to run Data Processing for the 21 banks that became the First Interstate Bank, the 4th largest bank in the US at that time. After 18 yrs of service, he joined the consulting firm of DMR out of Canada. Mike joined the partner in charge to do the results software for the 1984 Olympic Games in LA, as it was a huge success. In 1985, he was recruited to become the President and CEO of Community Bank Automations, owned by Charlie Cook, one of the richest men in America at that time. After many good years With CBA, he began a new journey with Great Western bank as a Senior Vice President in charge of bank operations. Mike was recruited over and over, being bought out for his expertise in the I/T department until he finally joined Countrywide Financial. The firm began its explosive growth and Mike was proud to be a part of the great American success story. Mike retired in 2005 at the age of Sixty and was proud to do his part in making America a better place for everyone.
He remarried to Marie in 2001 after 18 years of being single. He purchased a Gold's Gym and lived in Northridge. He continued with his bodybuilding lifestyle, along with his love for riding his Harley Davidson, as well as his weekend shenanigans of getting new tattoos and hanging out with his beloved biker family. He made deep intense relationship with this new family that has lasted over the years.
He soon fell madly in love with the love of his life, Carol, whom he married and stayed with till his passing. They worked for many years together in the banking business. With the commonality of their business minds, play life on the Harley's, and the deep love of their pets, it was truly a match made in heaven. Their life together brought so much joy to the people around them. I've never met a bigger, larger than life man who had people flocking to him with his roaring laughter, exceedingly generous heart, the feisty fire of a beast, and the gentle tenderness for animals and those in need. His strong love for his country, the respect for the men and women who died for our freedom, and the liberty of being a free American has shaped his entire family and friends around him
Mike is survived by his wife Carol, his sister Barbara, brother Jack, his 2 children Todd & Nicole, his stepdaughter Kim, stepson Greg, his grandchildren, nieces, nephews and in-laws.
A visitation will be held 10 until 10:45 am Wednesday May, 11, 2022 at Robinson funeral Home Powdersville Road in Easley, South Carolina . A service will follow in the funeral home chapel at 11 am.
The service will be live streamed for those who can not attend with a military salute at Robinson Funeral Home in Powdersville, SC on Wednesday May11th 2022.
Visit RobinsonFuneralHomes.com or Robinson Funeral Home Crematory - Powdersville Road , Easley, South Carolina