my mother’s obituary


I have been in Texas for almost three weeks. My mother entered hospice care on January 2 and died IMG_0496on January 15. Here is her obituary.

Barbara Schultz Cunningham of Waco, Texas died on January 15, 2016 of kidney failure. She was eighty-four. She is survived by her two sons: Milton Brasher-Cunningham (and his wife, Ginger Brasher-Cunningham) of Guilford, Connecticut and Miller (and his wife, Ginger) of Dallas; two grandsons: Ben (and his wife, Jenny) of New Orleans and Scott (and his wife, Marissa) of Wheaton, Illinois; one great grandson: James; two nieces: Sloane Underwood and Chase May; and many cousins. She is preceded in death by her husband, Milton Cunningham.

Barbara was born in Texas City, Texas on January 12, 1932 to Mabel and Valmond Schultz. She graduated from Texas City High School and Baylor University. She served as Baptist Student Union Director at the University of Houston and Youth Director at Lakeview Baptist Church in Dallas and First Baptist Houston. From the age of nine she felt called to be a missionary in Africa—a calling she fulfilled as a summer missionary in Nigeria and then as a career missionary in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Zambia, Kenya, and Ghana. After returning to the United States in 1972, she served as a member of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, as a Trustee at San Marcos Academy, and on the faculty of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. She spoke frequently at retreats and conferences, never losing her love for missions or Africa. She was committed to never miss a chance to tell someone about Jesus. She loved and mentored many, from all walks of life. She saw any chance meeting—at a store counter, on an airplane, or standing on a street corner—as as an opportunity to start a new relationship and share her faith. She loved being a missionary, a pastor’s wife, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, and a great-grandmother. She rarely seemed afraid to start something new. She loved to cook and to gather people around her table. She lived her life with a determined and tenacious spirit that enabled her to deal with difficulties that would have stopped many. She leaves behind a legacy of family, faith, food, friends, and a long list of people who came to Christ because they knew her.

Public viewing hours will be from 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday, January 19 at Wilkirson Hatch Bailey Funeral Home on Bosque Blvd. After a family burial, the memorial service will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20 at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Milton and Barbara Cunningham/George W. Truett Theological Seminary Endowed Scholarship Fund c/o Baylor University Gift Office, One Bear Place #97050, Waco, Texas 76798-7050.



  1. Milton, I am so sorry for your loss. I feel your pain as I buried my own mother just one week ago. May your family and friends hold you in God’s grace.

  2. Milton, you and Ginger and your family are in my prayers. You are carrying on your mother’s belief of the table as a place of fellowship. We both know it works. Be well.

  3. Beautiful words, Milton, to honor a beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing them with us. You and the whole family are in my prayers — sometimes a trite thing we say (myself included!) because we don’t know what else to say, but in this case it’s 100% true. I love you and miss you and sending you, Ginger, your brother, and all the rest my love and deepest, deepest sympathy.

  4. A beautiful tribute. Though I didn’t know her, I will always see a glimpse of her and your father through you. They left a fine legacy, indeed, Milton. Blessings on you and your family as you embark upon the path of grief. Seems it’s one with which you have become familiar of late. Job well done in escorting her across the threshold, my friend. May it always be a source of comfort to you. Sending love.

  5. Milton, may you and your family, as you process your mother’s absence, also feel the blessing of her clearly rich and rewarding life, and go forward feeling proud to continue her legacy of helping others to love God in each person they meet as they acknowledge God acting through themselves. Big hug. Rosemary

  6. Thank you for sharing these loving moments. You and Ginger and your extended family are all in our thoughts, prayers, and memories. Thank you, Susan, (tribute above) as yes, we DO see parents in their children, and remember our own.

  7. Dearest Milton, I am so sad to hear about your mom’s death. Being with her when she left this world and entered the next is a beautiful gift you gave to her and to yourself. I didn’t know her, but the deepest and purest part of any mother longs for her children to profit from her love and sacrifice, as she lives her values before them. May her life nurture you still, even as you grieve…. Peggy Basden Johnson

  8. Thank you Milton, for sharing Barbara’s obituary and memory! She was one of my favorite people at Westbury Baptist and I always enjoyed whenever she spoke about missionary work and her amazing family and life….Peggy Post

  9. My heart goes out to you and your family, Milton. Your mother sounds like a remarkable woman – and you seem to have inherited many of her gifts. A beautiful legacy, indeed.

    I started reading your blog during the last few weeks of my mother’s life (10 years ago). Your words were a comfort and a port in the storm, both then and ever since. And I wish that for you – the right words at just the right times to comfort you and ease your grief.

  10. Thank-you for sharing about your Mother and Father. My heart goes out to you during this time of loss and even greater the celebration of both your parents, their lives, and the lives they touched. The greatest celebration is for the fact that they are together in Heaven. Your friend James Groves.

  11. Dear Milton,
    Word of your precious mother’s passing came to me just a couple of days ago through Marcelle Simms. You, your family, Miller and his family are in my thoughts and prayers as you travel through this valley of the shadow of death.
    Many precious memories flood my thoughts as I recall meeting you for the first time in Zimbabwe. Our paths crossed from time to time until you moved to Lusaka, Zambia. At that point we grew closer together as “family”. The last time I saw your parents was a few years ago when they were in a town nearby. I enjoyed hearing your Dad preach one more time.
    I extend to you and all members of the Cunningham family my heartfelt sympathy. May God comfort your hearts in the days ahead.
    In His love,
    Mary Small

Leave a Reply