Robert Peter Cunningham of Oak Ridge, passed away Wednesday, April 17, at the age of 84.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy; son, Glenn Cunningham; son Gerald (Jerry) Cunningham; and nine grandchildren.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents and brother, John Cunningham, as well as a daughter, Linda Branning, and a son Bruce Cunningham.
A memorial services will be held on Saturday, May 18, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Oak Ridge at 11 a.m. with Father Dustin officiating.
Robert was born Dec. 3, 1928, to John and Anna (Eason) Cunningham in Paterson, N.J., the younger of two children. As a young child, the family moved to Clermont, Fla., where he grew up and met the love of his life, Dorothy J. Frisz. In 1948, after graduating from Clermont High School, the childhood sweethearts married.
Being mechanically inclined, he started working as a plumber’s apprentice, but with his older brother’s encouragement, joined the U.S. Coast Guard as a merchant seaman serving on several vessels on the Great Lakes. Within three years, he obtained rank of a boiler operator, a skill in high demand with the expanding electric power industry. In 1953, he accepted an offer with the Florida Power Corporation (FPC).
Working at several power plants, he became knowledgeable of water chemistry, instrumentation, controls, and maintenance. In the mid-1960s, FPC announced the construction of the Crystal River Nuclear Station and offer him a position at this station, if the nearly 40-year old man would attend a nuclear power reactor school at the company’s expense. Though raising a family of four and enjoying fishing and camping activities, he accepted, completing the program at the top of his class and was offered the position of supervisor, Instrumentation and Control CR-3. Robert was also one of the founders of the Bayboro Investment Club.
In 1986, Robert retired from FPC to enjoy time with his wife and best friend, Dorothy, and travel in their motorhome.
In 1994, after the loss of their youngest son, Bruce, they moved to Oak Ridge, to enjoy cooler weather. While in Oak Ridge, he volunteered time at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and the Emory Valley Center.