Cunningham, Mel

Passed: January 30, 2013


Mel Cunningham, 81, of Litchfield Park, died Jan 30, 2013 of complications from leukemia in Phoenix Arizona.  Mel was born April 2, 1931 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He had a Bachelor of Science from Arizona State College at Flagstaff (now known as North Arizona University) in 1958 and a Masters of Hospital Administration from Washington University in Missouri in 1964. Mel started his 33 year career with Samaritan Health Systems (now Banner) in 1963 with a one year residency at Good Samaritan Hospital. Mel was CEO of both Good Samaritan and Maryvale Samaritan hospitals, won the Sammy Award in 1983 and served on several local medical boards (MICA, Arizona Nurses Association…). Mel was a well loved leader who recognized the sacrifices of all the hospital staff: nights, week-ends, holidays, long hours, difficult tasks, families in distress… Mel lived a full life that started with time spent in Wisconsin & Kansas on family farms and at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green Wisconsin, as his mother and her family worked for Mr. Wright. He played baseball & football, rode bulls, boxed in the Golden Gloves, was in the Air Force during the Korean War, fished & golfed around the world with close friends, had horses (which he loved). On one fishing trip in New Zealand he hunted wild pigs with a local Maori tribe. He hiked across the Grand Canyon with his kids in the 70’s and later in life he hiked The Devils Highway in southern Arizona with his best friend from college, and fellow Korean War veteran, Frank Thomas. Mel’s dog Shadow was his best buddy. He was known for being able to eat half a gallon of ice cream in one sitting. He supported ASU athletics, first by attending the football games with his children in the old stadium, later he added the women’s & men’s basketball games. He never stopped loving his hometown football team, the Greenbay Packers. Mel lived an amazing life and shared the last years of his life with Deborah Bamonte. He is survived by his brother Milond, three children: Lynda, Lisa & Cindy (RJ), two grandsons: Weston & Kyle, great granddaughter: Jovi and his ex-wife: Chris. A memorial for Mel will be held at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S Litchfield Rd, Goodyear, AZ on Friday, February 15, 2013 4pm – 8pm. The family asks in lieu of flowers donations are made to one of Mel’s favorite charities: The Salvation Army or The Phoenix Rescue Mission.  Condolences can be sent to  Arrangements are under the direction of Thompson Funeral Chapel in Goodyear.


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Thompson Funeral Chapel