Jeraldine Rae Cunningham
Jeraldine Rae Cunningham, age 80, of Mountain Home passed away Tuesday, May 9, 2023, in Boise.
Jerry was born on March 4, 1943, in Nampa, Idaho to David Lee Trauernicht and Helen Geneva Cummings Trauernicht on March 4, 1943. She was joined by sister June Maxine born June 8, 1939, as the second daughter. Her father David farmed near Walter’s Ferry in Owyhee County for Carl and Hazel Bachman. He also milked cows to add income for the family. Her mother Helen raised a large garden and canned fruit and vegetables to help. Sister Barbara Lee, born August 3, 1949, joined the family as the third daughter. Jerry enjoyed playing with her dolls as a young child. In the fall of 1949, her mother was severely burned on her right side. She was trying to start the furnace in their home. A dear lady, Mrs. Berg, came to take care of the children as her mother recovered for several months. In the fall of 1950, her father moved the family to the beautiful new home on an 80-acre farm they had purchased in the Bennett Community, seven miles southwest of Nampa.
Jerry had started school at the Wilson School in Owyhee County in 1949. On her first day of the second grade at Bennett School she sat with Rita Cassidy, who became her lifelong best friend. Oh, what fun they had riding bikes, riding horses, and exploring the desert land around the Dry Lake area of Canyon County. Jerry excelled in her studies and enjoyed school very much. She graduated from the 8th grade as the top student in her class in 1957. This was the last class to graduate from the two-room school. In 1958, she went to Central Junior High. This was quite a traumatic experience coming from a small country school. Gradually, she made new friends and assimilated in the function of a town school. During her grade school years, she enjoyed 4-H, cooking and sewing. She fed calves for her dad during the evening and milked and hoed beans in the summer.
In the summer of 1951, her sister, June, got Spinal Cord Polio that left her a quadriplegic. This changed the life of the whole family. Many months and years were spent trying to find aid to allow June to achieve a good quality of life. In 1959, Jerry drove June to Northwest Nazarene College while she attended Nampa High School. Jerry excelled in her schoolwork and especially liked drama class and working on the Yearbook Committee. In her senior year, she got a major part in the production of The Egg and I. She also got a job in Nampa working at the Stanford Dime Store during her senior summer.
During her junior summer, she met Gary Cunningham while attending an Oreana Dance with her friend, Janet Schroll and Janet’s parents who were part of the band. Jerry had dated a few young men, but she and Gary hit it off at the Silver City Cattleman Dance that July. The next year and a half, they attended dances, went to movies, and enjoyed other activities together. In the fall of 1961, Jerry was going to the University of Idaho, but her plans changed, and she attended Boise Junior College instead. By that winter, they both decided this was the one! On February 14, 1962, they were married at the Methodist Church in Nampa with a honeymoon to San Francisco. Their first home was a beautiful three-bedroom house in Grand View. Gary farmed with his father and Jerry became a homemaker raising a garden, taking care of the yard, and canning fruits and vegetables.
On November 15, 1963, Kimberly Kay joined the family. Having a baby to care for was a whole new experience, but Jerry soon got her schedule worked out. She was active at Knight Community Church teaching Sunday School and attending Women’s Fellowship. On August 31, 1967, a baby boy, Stacey Lynn, joined the family. As the children got older, Gary and Jerry guided the children to know how to work, be self-starters, finish a task, and be proud of the job well done. Both children were active in church activities, 4-H, and school. Kim enjoyed music and singing. Stacey enjoyed working with wood, designing houses, and working on his car. The family enjoyed many trips to Yellowstone Park, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. There were many family camping trips all over Idaho and Oregon. Holidays were spent with grandparents, aunts, and uncles over the years. As the children married and developed careers of their own, Gary and Jerry traveled with Worldwide Tours seeing sites in New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas, California, Florida, Mississippi, and Hawaii. The grandchildren came along, and Gary and Jerry enjoyed more family camping trips with them. Gary continued to farm until the winter of 2008 when they rented their farm to Scott and Lori Bennett. Gary continued to enjoy helping Scott while Jerry spent many hours volunteering at the Owyhee County Historical Society and Museum in Murphy. She served as Director and an officer there. She did research and presented programs to schools for the museum. The highlight of her experiences was being the Idaho Centennial Owyhee County Chairperson in 1990. The committee produced a souvenir edition “Snake River Country Auto Tour.” They had 23,500 copies printed and were sent to Chamber of Commerce organizations across Idaho. On February 13, 2022, Gary and Jerry celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary at the Grand View Senior Center. Over 50 people enjoyed the catered dinner while watching a family video compiled by Kim Cunningham. Stacey was Master of Ceremonies and led a remembrance session of funny events in Gary and Jerry’s married life. What a great time was had by all!
Please join the Cunningham family in celebrating Jerry’s life at Valley Christian Fellowship located at 37866 ID-78 in Grand View, Idaho on Saturday, June 10, 2023, at 10:00 A.M. A graveside service will follow at Riverside Cemetery located at 2 Roosevelt Avenue in Grand View at 11:30 A.M. Everyone is invited to lunch at Grand View Community Center at 12:00 P.M located at 510 Idaho St. Grand View. Memorials in Jerry’s honor can be made to Knight Community Church, PO Box 146, Grand View, Idaho 83624.