She was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts on March 7th, 1929, but throughout much of her early life she lived and in Crescent City, Florida. After graduating from high school, she received her Registered Nurse diploma from Sturdy Memorial Hospital. During the Korean Warr Suzette joined the United States Air Force and served two years as a Flight Nurse at Ladd Air Force Base in Fairbanks, Alaska, as a First Lieutenant. There she met her future husband J. David Cunningham, who was also serving in the Air Force in Alaska. They were married in Crescent City in June of 1953, and resided in Texas, Washington, and South Dakota before settling in Oregon.
Throughout her long civilian career, Suzette specialized in high-risk obstetric nursing at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon; Columbia Hospital for Women and Children in Washington D.C.; and Geissinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania.
Upon retirement in 1992, Suzette and J. David returned to Oregon, taking up residence Salem. Her retirement dream was to learn to do “two new things well.” Those goals were achieved in spades when she earned her Master Gardener’s Certification, through the Oregon State University Extension Program, and also volunteered as a wood carver for Salem’s Riverfront Carousel. Suzette remained very active with both organizations well into the second decade of the 21st century.
Suzette Cunningham is survived by her four children: James Everett Cunningham, of Boca Raton, Florida; Elyse Marie Wheeler, of Mesa, Arizona; David Patrick Cunningham, of Oakland, California; and, Michael Edward Cunningham of Cottage Grove, Oregon; as well as seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Contributions, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, Salem, Oregon. Arrangements in the care of Smith Lund Mills Funeral Chapel, Cottage Grove, OR.