Janice Williams

Jessica Reese Cunningham

In David Houston Cunningham, James Washington Cunningham, Obituary on June 24, 2012 at 11:00 pm

We lost a member of our family last week. Jessica Cunningham died from cancer at 75 years old. She was always a faithful reunion attendee and brought kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids each year. Last year’s youngest was the newest member of Jessica’s family.

Last year at the reunion, Jessica’s camera refused to take more pictures because the SD card was full. She didn’t want to delete any pictures she had on it, so to solve the problem, I dumped all her photos onto my computer and sent her a CD of her photos when I got home. I glanced through some of the pictures she had taken the night before the reunion when she and all her family were gathered at a bed-and-breakfast in Comanche. It looked like they were having a ball with little children all over that house and a great group around the table of adults playing cards and laughing. They were having a great reunion.

After going to her funeral and thinking about her a lot this week, I looked through those pictures again. I hadn’t realized how far back they went. It may have only been a few months, but there were so many pictures of Jessica and her family and activities and trips. In just that short time there were pictures of a grandchild’s wedding, at least one grandchild’s graduation, a trip to San Francisco, and pictures of Jessica zip-lining and jet-skiing! This was one active, involved woman. But most of the pictures that had her in them were group pictures:  her with her four kids, her with her grandchildren, and picture after picture with great-grandchildren, with one, two, three, or four snuggled up to her in a recliner or on the couch, with everyone all smiles. There is no doubt she will be missed by her family. She was truly loved and gave out a lot of love.

Here is a picture of Jessica in San Francisco that captured her spirit, I thought:

jessica 222

If you didn’t know Jessica, she was related to us in a couple of ways. When her grandfather’s first wife died at age 27, he remarried to Martha Elsamina Cunningham Bumpas, the daughter of David Houston Cunningham of the original 12 children of the Cunningham family, and the widow of Robert Bumpas. So Jessica was a step-Cunningham with her grandfather’s marriage. But then she married Donald Winfield Cunningham, the great-grandson of James Washington Cunningham of the original 12.

She was also related to some of us in other ways. Her grandmother that died at age 27 had an older brother who was my great-grandfather and he married into the Cunningham family. I talked to Harold Perkins at the funeral and he was related to Jessica through her mother, who was a Perkins (I believe she was Harold’s aunt). In a close-knit community like Comanche, there are going to be lots of ways of relating.

Last year at the reunion I bought a wandering Jew at the silent auction that Jessica’s son Scot brought. He often brings gorgeous plants and I am always eager to get one. This one also had a stray cutting from a green plant and he had a big plant like that for the auction, too. Jessica told me a wonderful story about that plant.

She said that that plant (I think it is a night-blooming cereus, but I’m not certain) belonged to her mother, Emma Reese. She had inherited it and had had it for years, but had never seen it bloom, partially because it blooms in the night. She said after her husband died, she was filled with grief and a couple of months after he died she was having a particularly hard night and could not sleep. She got up in the middle of the night and went into another part of the house and saw this plant in bloom. She said it was her sign that all was well and he was okay and she would be, too. The plant has meant a lot to their family and they had it near, even at the graveside service in Oakwood this week. I am very proud to have a piece of that plant, too, and will always remember Jessica and her family when I see it.

Jessica’s obituary is online from the Victoria Advocate and was also in the Comanche Chief.

Some members of the family have made a donation to the Cunningham family in Jessica’s name. If you would like to remember her in that way, you can send a check to “Cunningham Reunion” at 504 N. Elm, Comanche, TX 76442.

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