William H. "Bill" Cunningham, 90, of Mesa, Ariz., formerly of Astoria, died Monday, Feb. 2, 2009, in Chandler, Ariz.

He was born May 21, 1918, in Woonsocket, R. I.

In 1939, he graduated from Providence College and began working in New York City.

He married Ethel Cunningham. She preceded him in death. They were married 54 years.

After the start of World War II, Mr. Cunningham was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Because of a tendency to motion sickness, he withdrew from flight school in Pensacola, Fla., and in 1943, served as a communications officer on board an escort carrier doing convoy duty in the north Atlantic. In 1944, he was transferred to a battleship, the USS New York, in the Atlantic and then went to the Pacific where the New York was part of the battle group at the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After 76 days at Okinawa, the New York went to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

After the war, he moved to Southern California and pursued his postgraduate studies in public administration at the University of Southern California.

Mr. Cunningham became assistant city manager in the city of Whittier, Calif., in 1950, and then became the first city manager of Placentia, Calif., in 1953. He was then city manager of Rialto, Calif., Astoria, Sacramento, Calif., Yuba City, Calif., and Mill Valley, Calif., and finally in Merced, Calif., where he retired in the mid-1980s. He was the city manager of Astoria from 1959 to 1964. After retiring in Merced, he moved briefly to Southern California, back to Merced, and then in 1995, to the Phoenix, Ariz., area, where he remained.

Family members said he played piano, and used the piano both as his way of unwinding at the end of the day and also entertaining people at numerous parties and gatherings over the years.

He is survived by a sister, Alice Cunningham of Mesa; a son, William H. Cunningham Jr. of Tustin, Calif.; two daughters, Karen Cunningham of Los Angeles and Meredith Craig of Merced; and four grandchildren.

A service has already been held.

Melcher Mission Chapel of Mesa was in charge of the arrangements.

To plant a tree in memory of William Cunningham as a living tribute, please visit Tribute Store.

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