Celebrating the life of Robert Douglas Cunningham Jr.
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Obituary for Robert Douglas Cunningham Jr.
\"Son, why don\'t you just be a trainer instead?\" That\'s what the coach said in the summer of 1937 when Doug Cunningham showed up on the first day of football practice at Gordon Military Junior College in Barnesville. Gordon already had plenty of scholarship athletes--and he only weighed 130 pounds and had never played in a real football game (Old Eatonton High didnt have a team). One year later he was their star halfback, helping the team win an undefeated conference championship. He was born December 8, 1920 in White Plains, in Green County, Georgia. At age nine his family moved to Decatur for two years, then to Eatonton, where he lived for the rest of his life, until his final years at the Willow Run Retirement Home in Greensboro and then the Georgia V.A. Home in Milledgeville. He loved to play football, baseball, golf, poker, and bridge. He once won a bet as a child by throwing an orange over the eagle atop the Eatonton courthouse. He once lost a bet as a grown man trying to throw a football across a lake on a golf course. He was the last of about a dozen friends who played golf every Sunday and Wednesday afternoon and poker every Wednesday night. One Saturday morning when he was ten, Doug and his younger brother, Holmes, caught a bus from their Decatur home to Grant Field to watch Georgia Tech play. He fell in love with the Jackets that day and became a lifelong fan. He once had a chance to play on Grant Field, when Gordon played the Tech freshmen, but he missed that game with a broken rib. His son later became a Tech Hall of Fame halfback. After Gordon he went to UGA, to be near his future bride, Florrie Rossee. There he played for his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, scoring their last minute winning touchdown in the UGA intramural championship game at Sanford Stadium. On his 21st birthday he woke to the giant headline: \"Japan attacks Pearl Harbor. U.S. declares war. He soon graduated and shipped overseas, where he was a Lieutenant in the 1st Armored Division that fought the Germans across North Africa and into Italy. Upon his return home from the war, he married Florrie in the First United Methodist Church and they had three children. During this time he ran the Rossee Chevrolet place, built and ran the Eatonton Motel, assessed property for Putnam County, appraised land for Georgia Power, and immersed himself in the civic life of Eatonton. Later in life he delivered the rural mail route. He helped start and coach Eatonton\'s first Midget League Football and Little League Baseball teams. Those boys later won Putnam County Highs first football and baseball state championships. Florrie was disabled by multiple sclerosis early in their marriage, but he took her everywhere and they did everything. At the beach he would carry her out beyond the waves and hold her as she floated in the ocean. He gave Civil War battle lectures at schools and clubs. He read two newspapers everyday and lots of books. He wrote long letters. He maintained many friendships. He died peacefully, under hospice care, with his family, at the V.A. Home, on September 13th. He was 92. His parents were Robert Douglas Cunningham, Sr. and Velma Holmes Cunningham. His father was a grocer and his mother a homemaker. He was the oldest of five children: Doug, Holmes, Harold (deceased), Edna Clair (Schooley) and Caroline Sug (Walton). Florrie died in 1982. His children are Holly Parker, Brent Cunningham, and Rebecca Rocker. His grandchildren are Bert and Doug Toney, Walter Rocker III, and Florrie and Abigail Cunningham. His great grandchildren are Cunningham, Caleb, and Cade Toney, and Isabelle and Walter Ford Rocker IV. He was an active member and served many leadership positions in: The Kiwanis Club, The First United Methodist Church, The Putnam County Board of Education, The Eatonton P.T.A., The Gatewood P.T.O., The Dairy Festival, The Red Cross, the Uncle Remus Museum, and, at UGA, Phi Delta Theta fraternity. The visitation and funeral services will be held in the Historic Sanctuary of The First United Methodist Church in Eatonton, Georgia on Sunday, September 15, 2013 at 2:00pm and 3:00pm respectively. Interment will follow at Pine Grove Cemetery in Eatonton, Georgia. Pall Bearers: Bob Cunningham, Craig Cunningham, Mark Cunningham, Lex Rainey, Walter C. Rocker III, Douglas Charles Toney, Robert Leonard Toney, Jr. Vining Ivy Hill Chapel is in charge of the arrangements.