ZephyrhillsFla. - Milburn A. "Mel" Cunningham "Purple Heart Recipient"
Milburn A. Cunningham, 97, formerly of Allegany & Olean, passed away on Sunday March 3, 2019 at his home in ZepherhillsFla.
Born Feb. 25, 1922 in Washington, Indiana, he was the son of Milburn A. and Jane (Greenwood) Cunningham. On Feb. 17, 1946, he married Dolores Silloway in Olean, NY, who passed away early May 15, 2003. He later married Zella Grady in Oct. 2003, who pre-deceased him on Jan. 21, 2014.
Mel was a proud member and CFO of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, East Pasco Chapter 705, Zephyrhills, FL and received many honors through participation with the organization. He attended the newly formed Army Specialized Training Program at St. Bonaventure University in 1943 then in 1944, became a member of the 104th Division, 414 Regiment, Company A, First Squad of the Timberwolf Division. He entered the war with his division in Belgium, where he was wounded in battle while attempting to take position at the RuhrRiver, south of Germany, just before the Battle of the Bulge. He recovered from his injuries and spent the remainder of his service during World War II at a redeployment camp in Cherbourg, France.
After the war, he returned to Olean to settle down with his bride, Dolores and became a well-known figure in the community. The couple operated RockCityPark for more than 30 years. Mel also had a long career at Dresser Industries. He was a member of the Olean Area Chamber of Commerce and helped establish a Cattaraugus County Tourist Bureau, and had a role in coining the term, “The Enchanted Mountains.” For several years, he was a key figure and emcee of the Miss New York State Pageant the decade it was held in Olean.
Having retired full time tin 2016 to his Zephyrhills home, Mel returned to Olean in 2018 to celebrate 75 years as a member of Olean First Baptist Church and to host a book-signing party for his life story, “My Walk With Jesus—The Solid Rock.” As a MOPH member, he also helped establish military memorials in both New York and Florida, some with the help of State Senator Catherine Young, whom he considered a good friend.
He is survived by one brother, Dr. Frank (Patricia) “Gene” Cunningham, of Kansas, and their children: Mike, Terry, Charles, Kandice and Mark; grandnieces and nephews, many military friends and several long-time friends at Olean First Baptist and within the Olean community.
Friends will be received in the OleanFirstBaptistChurch on Tuesday, March 12, 2019 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am at witch time Funeral Services will be Held. The Rev. Jason Hladik, Senior Pastor, will Officiate. Burial with full military honors accorded by the Allegany American Legion Charles Harbal Post # 892 will next to his first wife Dolores in Mt.ViewCemetery, Olean, NY. A luncheon is planned at Olean First Baptist, Fellowship Hall after the cemetery.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to either of the two organizations closest to Mel's heart and the are the Military Order of the Purple Heart and/or the Olean First Baptist Church 133 South Union Street, Olean, NY 14760.