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Dan William Cunning was welcomed into this world by his parents, W. B. (Burl) Cunning and Irene (Dolecheck) Cunning, and big brother Joe on May 25, 1939, at the Leon, IA hospital. Dan left to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on September 13, 2020.
Dan was active, passionate and engaged during all stages of his life and just a little bit onery, as evidence by the time he climbed the Mount Ayr water tower with his good friend, Johnny Snedeker. Dan was a starting point guard for the Mount Ayr High School boys’ basketball team, leading them to the Blue Grass Conference championship in 1956 and 1957. He also quarterbacked the Raider football team and played safety his junior and senior years. He was especially fond of his membership in Future Farmers of America in high school.
After graduating from Mount Ayr High School in 1957, he enrolled at Iowa State College where he became a life-long Cyclone. He graduated from Iowa State in 1961 with a bachelor of science degree in agricultural business. It was in Ames that Dan met and later married Judith Elaine Shuey of Gilbert. They were united in marriage on June 24, 1961, shortly after Dan’s graduation and right before he began his service in the United States Army.
Dan’s ROTC training in college prepared him for his service to his country as a forward observer while stationed at Fort Sill, OK and then Fort Riley, KS from 1961 to 1963. Upon discharge from the Army, Dan began working for his father on October 1, 1963 at W. B. Cunning Co. in Mount Ayr, a firm Burl had been a part of since 1927. Dan later bought this business from his retiring father in the late 1970’s, providing insurance, real estate and farm management services to the community. Dan had a deep love for the farm life and farm management. His devotion to his career garnered him success, but, more importantly, the respect, gratitude and friendship of the Ringgold County community.
Dan and Judy were very active in local organizations and efforts. Dan was a Mount Ayr Jaycee in the mid-1960’s when the Jaycees were at their most active. Membership in the Mount Ayr Lion’s Club, Mount Ayr Chamber of Commerce, Ringgold County Development Corporation, Mount Ayr Golf & Country Club (where they changed from sand to grass greens), First Christian Church, American Legion, Moonlighters Theatre Group, as well as other organizations, produced life-long friends and rewarding experiences. The Scottish phone booth on the Mount Ayr square exists due to the efforts of Dan, Judy, and his brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Pat Cunning.
Dan served on many boards, including Mount Ayr Inn & Suites, Mount Ayr Municipal Airport (of which he was president), MATURA Action Corporation, Green Hills Area Education Agency, Mount Ayr Manor. His efforts helped in passing the school bond to build the current Mount Ayr High School, building the Mount Ayr Inn & Suites, obtaining lights and improvements for the Mount Ayr Airport and bringing a little bit of Scotland to the Ayr Days celebrations.
With all his work and business, Dan still found time to play and mow. He loved his tractor! He earned his pilot’s license a week before his 30th birthday, wrestled a tiger at the Ringgold County Fair, portrayed Tarzan at “The Gong Show” at the Mount Ayr Golf & Country Club and could really cut a rug with Judy!
Eva Lake Resort in Ontario, Canada was Dan and Judy’s paradise. After their honeymoon in 1961, they spent the next two months at Eva Lake Resort helping to run the business. Dan returned to the resort every year thereafter, only missing one year (2014), when Judy was ill and passed away. He enjoyed so many wilderness adventures, walleyes and blueberry pancakes. Dan loved fishing and bird hunting with his Labradors, and maybe a little Johnny Walker Red Label in the evenings. The Cunnings traveled to Florida annually to spend time with Joe and Pat, and made too many trips to Ames/Gilbert to count in order to see friends and relatives and cheer on the Cyclones.
Dan became a Cyclone season ticket holder in 1975, the year Jack Trice Stadium was built, and still has the same tickets to this day. His devotion to the Iowa State University Cyclones never diminished over the years and he attended all but a couple of football games (when he broke his back). He also had season tickets at Hilton Coliseum for the men’s basketball games.
Though Dan had leadership roles and abilities, he was also a servant. He and Judy taught Sunday school, served as ushers and deacons and sang in the church choir at the First Christian Church in Mount Ayr. Dan later served as treasurer at the United Baptist Presbyterian Church. He took an active role in foreign missions, contributing through International Cooperating Ministries to the building of many churches in Africa, Asia, Russia and Guatemala. He also enjoyed flipping pancakes and sausage at the annual pancake supper. To the glory of God, Dan gave of his wisdom, time and treasure his entire life.
Dan was predeceased by his wife, Judith Elaine (Shuey) Cunning, parents Burl and Irene Cunning, and in-laws Jim and Arlene Shuey. He is survived by his son, David Cunning of Mount Ayr; daughter and son-in-law, Stacy and C.J. Lage of Urbandale, IA; brother and sister-in-law, Joe and Pat Cunning of Wilmington, DE; brothers-in-law, Matthew Shuey of Nevada, IA and Shannon Shuey of Canada; nieces, Lisa (Ken) Bachman of Wilmington, DE and Nancy (Joe) Diel of Bethel Park, PA; nephew, Nicholas Shuey; great-nephew, Jake Diel, and great-nieces, Abby Diel and Hannah Bachman.
His family, more than anyone, knows the depth of love, generosity, and sense of family and community possessed by Dan William Cunning. He was an exceptional human being and a tremendous example for all of us!
Open visitation will be from 12:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 17 at Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr, IA.
Graveside service will be at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, September 18, 2020 at Armstrong Funeral Home in Mount Ayr, IA.
Officiating will be Rev. Mike Maddy.
Military honors will be by Ringgold Post #172 and Iowa Army Honor Guard.
Memorials will be to the Neighborhood Center and I.C.M.
Masks and social distancing are required at the graveside service.

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