Deceased Classmates & Guests

James A Cunningham

James A Cunningham

This is Jim's obituary that appeared on

The soul of James A. Cunningham departed this earth on Wednesday, May 9, 2018. James was 74 years old and a native of Moline. Family and dear friends were with him when he transitioned from this world to be with God.

Visitation will be 1-4 p.m. Sunday at Rafferty Funeral Home, 2111 1st St. A, Moline. The funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, May 14, 2018, at Faith Lutheran Church, Moline. Burial will be at Greenview Memorial Gardens, East Moline. A memorial fund has been established.

Jim was born July 22, 1943, in Moline, to Carl and Flo (Hobbs) Cunningham. He was the youngest of three siblings, all of which preceded him in death. In his journey through life, he married Wendy Warren on Sept. 20, 1996. Wendy and Jim were blessed with two daughters during their 22 years of marriage.

Jim graduated from Moline High School, where he distinguished himself as a gifted athlete. In 1961, Jim and five other members of the Moline Track Team finished first in the State of Illinois’ one mile relays. He also excelled in football as a halfback on offense and a safety on defense. After high school, Jim attended Black Hawk College and graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice.

On May 16, 1966, Jim began his exemplary career as a Moline police officer. He served in the operations division, criminal investigations and juvenile crimes. In 1977, Jim was assigned to the Metropolitan Enforcement Group as Director of Covert Investigations. He served in this position until June of 1984. During his stewardship of MEG, the newly formed Drug Enforcement Agency inaugurated successful multi-jurisdictional investigations that targeted the major purveyors of controlled substances, cannabis and other illegal contraband. During his tenure, Director Cunningham was recognized as a consensus builder and one who possessed remarkable leadership attributes. Police chiefs, sheriffs, county prosecutors and the states of Illinois and Iowa formerly commended Director Cunningham for his dedication to duty and the professionalism he continually exhibited.

During his 40-year career, Jim also served as a bicycle officer and as a member of the Moline Police Motorcycle Unit. Jim was known as an officer who made unselfish commitments to Moline, the State of Illinois and the citizens he faithfully served and protected. His quiet resolve and never wavering loyalty to the police department, fellow officers and community was steadfast and served as an example to other first responders.

Peers and superiors alike found Jim always ready, willing and capable. Commanders and colleagues defined him as the consummate police officer. On May 19, 2006, James Cunningham retired from the MPD. His career spanned 40 years in the front lines of law enforcement and service to the community, which placed Officer James Cunningham in very elite company.

Jim was a member of the Moline Police Benevolent, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Moline Police Pension Board, President of the Blue Marlins Swim Team and Faith Lutheran Church in Moline. His family was the rock from which Jim pursued life and following their journeys was always a matter held fast to his heart. Jim also found riding an American-made Harley-Davidson a favorite pastime. The friendships Jim made had no bounds and he was especially close to Gary Hoegner and Kenneth Rexroth.

Jim’s survivors include his wife, Wendy; children, Elizabeth and Madelyn Cunningham, both at home, Scott (Julie) Cunningham, Apex, N.C., Kristen (Jim) Ballard, Taylor Ridge, Ill., Lisa (Nick) Boyer, East Moline, and Bill (Amy) Cunningham, San Antonio, Texas; 12 grandchildren; mother and father-in-law, Nancy and Bill Warren; brother-in-law, Shawn Warren; sisters-in-law, Heather Warren and Darcy and Brad Brittenham; and many nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his grandson, Brandon Ballard; brothers, Billy and Jerry; and a sister, Veda.

Condolences may be left at

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05/10/18 08:16 PM #6    

Woodie Acord

Jim was a stalwart of Moline High School athletics. A great running back in football, a star on the track team, he gave it his all. What a guy. We used to tease that while we were all trying to borrow our folks cars for dates, he actually owned two cars on his own. I will be in Moline on Monday and will attend his funeral on behalf of the class of 1962.

05/11/18 08:58 AM #7    

Robert L Sandberg

I was a friend of Jim , we went to Coolidge and High School together I am sorry to hear about his passing he will be missed by all that knew him thru out the years.

05/11/18 10:48 AM #8    

Lana R Jacobs

Jim & I grew up together, 6th Avenue & 25th Street area. He lived on 5th Avenue & 24th Street. Linda Galloway lived next door to Jim and Gene Terry lived on 24th St, down the alley from Jim & Linda's houses(ALL 3 are now gone). I believe Cecelia Miner might have also hung out with us. OMGSH!....the fun we would have! All the games you played in grade school; kick the can, red rover/red rover, etc. Going to the movies DT Moline. And we hung out @ Riverside Park alot,swimming(dancing on 2nd floor) and participating in summer park activities. Then there was the infamous "Black Angel" in Riverside Cementary and catching "snipe" in a gunny sack (we were always "initiating" a new "hunter" to play that game!!! I believe, around 9th grade we "went steady". He was the best kisser(no offense Rick Court)! Then, of course, the famous story about Coach Taylor/Rock Island hiring the guys to watch his house for the summer! Police came and Cunningham was hiding in the Apple Orchard. Jim was ALWAYS a neat guy with a great laugh and liked by everyone. My heartfelt sympthay to his wife, children, grandchildren. As we all know, Jim Cunningham was a humble man who understood the human condition, possessed a compassionate heart and always gave his best. See you on the other side Jim!

05/11/18 11:26 AM #9    

Cecil E Cady

i knew jim from coolidge. played football with him 4 years, we became good friends. he was a great guy. i am so sorry for his family.h ewas the best football player i played with and a great person and a lot of fun.

05/11/18 04:14 PM #10    

Michael B Reed

     With a brief apology for all the times I should have responded to news of the deaths of our classmates--and didn't--let me add a thought or two about Jim Cunningham.  We first became acquainted in seventh grade at Coolidge, where I served as his tackling dummy on the playground, simply because I couldn't outrun him.  As we competed in track through the grades, his finishes were always well ahead of mine.  He didn't like to lose.       

     An example of his determination to be the best came (I think) in our junior year, when he was matched against the area favorite in the quarter mile from Rock Island.  The one segment of the race that amazes me to this day is the last few yards, when he spent himself so completely to win that he passed out just beyond the finish line.  He didn't like to lose.

     I only saw Jim one time after graduation, at the reunion of the state teams in 2012.  I can (barely) outrun him now.  Goodbye, Jim.




05/11/18 04:28 PM #11    

Sandra K Miller (Granger-Spinney)


I am  so sorry to hear that Jim passed away.  Jim not only was my class mate but also worked with my late husband Ron on the Moline Police Department.  He was a fine man and excellent police officer.  

My deepest sympathy goes out to his dear family.

Sandy Miller Granger Spinney



05/12/18 04:43 PM #12    

Dr. Thomas A Herbert

To All:

I did not know Jim well but he was gritty as a competitor in track and football. I was there for most of his strong performances. Woodie and Dave will be representing me in person Sunday and Monday and my thoughts are with everyone. Many friends have left us this past year.



05/13/18 03:54 PM #13    

Jerry W Soukup

I didn't know Jim well, but like some of the other respondents new him from athletics.  My favorite story comes from Jim Marsh.  I saw Jim about 6 years ago at an event in Rock Island, when I was visiting the QCA to see my Dad and Brother Bruce & Family.   We talked about some of our competitions in grade school.  Jim from  Washington and me from Franklin.  We specifically talked about an all Moline Public Elementary School Track & Field meet at Wharton / Browning (?) Field Complex where we both competed in the 50 and 100 yard dashes.

Jim told me the story about running in the 100 yard final.  He was in the lead when he heard something that sounded like a "steam locamotive" starting to overtake him.  Yes, it was Jim Cunningham.  I don't remember if Jim M. or Jim C. won.   But after playing 7th grade football with Jim Cunnigham, I also remember his determination when in competition.

Rest in Peace Jim and my condolences to your Family.




05/15/18 07:33 PM #14    

Louis W Ritchie

I first became aware of Jim Cunningham, way back in Jr. High School, when I was at John Deere Jr. high school, and Jim was an athlete at Coolidge Jr. high school.  I remeber how dominate Jim was in football and especially Track & Field.  Jim was so dominate in Track in Jr. High School, I didn't belong on the same track with him. In Jr. High School, Jim was running the 440 yard dash in under 54 seconds, and I couldn't even break 60 seconds as an 9th grader. Jim was so dominate in Track in Jr. High School and so far  ahead of everybody, he use to go work out with the high school athletes, coached by the great Gene Shipley. I admired Jim so much, I remember telling my brother Henry (who was a junior at that time in High School) and Gene Shipley, that I wanted run like Jim Cunningham. So during my sophomore year in high school, Jim went out for football, and I went out for cross country. I told Gene Shipley, that I wanted to run like Jim Cunningham in the 440 yard dash, and try and make the mile relay team, when track season came around. To make a long story short, I made the mile relay team, along with Jim Cunningham, Ken Carlson, and my brother Henry. As most people know, our mile relay team won the state championship in 1960 and as a result, Moline won it's first state championship in school history, along with many other athletes on Moline's Track and Field team at that time. Gene Shipley had Jim Cunningham run first leg on our mile relay time, because he knew, Jim was one of those rare athletes, that had the upmost fight in him, and he would be a really big boost to start our relay off. Jim, I considered, the (spark plug) of our mile relay, because he always gave our mile relay team the spark that we needed to lead from the front. All myself, Ken Carlson, and my brother Henry (whose ran anchor leg) had to do, was hold on to the lead that Jim Cunningham provided for us. Any sucess I had in Track & Field, I owe to Jim Cunningham, because he was the one I admired so much in Jr. High School, to the point I worked hard in cross country to be a part of the mile relay.  I was extremly sadden when I heard the news of the passing of Jim Cunningham, and will always remember him in my prayers. (MAY HE REST IN PEACE)!

05/15/18 09:37 PM #15    

Gay B Thompson (Vencill)

Louie, what a great tribute to Jim.  I learned things about Jim from your post that I never knew.  Thank you for sharing.

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