"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

William Archer Cunningham

Date of Birth: 
November 30, 1946
Date of Death: 
Saturday, April 29, 2017
Birthplace: 
Tacoma, Washington
Service Information: 
There will be a Celebration of Life for Will’s family and friends on Saturday, May 20. For additional information about this gathering, please contact WillCMemorial@gmail.com.

Will Cunningham, age 70, of Bellingham, Washington, passed away on April, 29, 2017, after a two-year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

For the record, he never looked or acted his age. To the end, Will had a true heart, loved life and his family, and was reluctant to leave.

Will was born in Tacoma, Washington, on November 30, 1946, to Bernice Ellen Cunningham and William Archer Cunningham, and older sister Gail, all deceased. As a teenager, he was active in high school sports, theater, and loved riding his old Vespa scooter. Will attended the University of Washington for a few years, until the railroad called his name. He worked first as a trainman for the Northern Pacific Railway, which later became the BNSF Railway. Will met his wife, Marne, in 1979; they were married at the Roeder Home in Bellingham on March 14, 1987. Soon after, the railroad offered Will an expense-paid tour of several states: Wyoming, Nebraska, Texas, and then Wyoming again. Over a 48-year career, he held a progression of positions at BNSF, and he loved going to work every single day.

In 1988 and 1990, his life was blessed by the births of his daughter Delaney, and his son Evan, respectively. He couldn’t have been prouder of his children and often said Delaney and Evan were the two best things he and Marne ever did together. Will’s support for his family was unfailing. He was totally immersed in the kids’ lives and activities—he was always ready for anything and was the source of the family’s most-memorable adventures.

Will is survived by his wife, Marne Evans; children, Delaney [TJ Telan] and Evan [Ashley Sutton-Daniels]; and niece, Laura Caswell [Clark]. Will had so many friends with so many stories to tell of how he touched their lives over the years.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Will’s family and friends on May 20, when these stories will be shared.

In remembrance, please consider donating to Pancreatic Action Network or Whatcom Hospice.

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Mark Murphy on

will meant a lot to us that worked on the Coal Project. One of the finest people I have ever worked with. His personal commitment to the team and the railroad was outstanding. 

Submitted by Meri Sandlin on

I knew and worked with Will for many years while he was on his tour in Gillette, Wyoming.  He will truly be missed but never forgotten!

Submitted by Bob Brautovich on

There was no greater champion of the BNSF coal team than Will.  I can't count the number of times I was greeted by his smiling face. He made everyone feel welcome in Gillette, was always a gracious host, and never failed to impress customers and co-workers with his knowledge of the railroad.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.  Sincerely, Bob & Rosanne. 

Submitted by Randy Reyff on

Ditto to Bob B's comments above. In addition, I had great professional and personal fun introducing Will to ATSF southwest coal ops in the mid-90's. His observations and insights brought the new BNSF coal group a fresh and value-added prespective. Rest in peace Will.... you are indeed in our thoughts, prayers and fond memories.

 Randy and Candy Reyff

 

Submitted by Kathie Farrell on

I so agree with the words in his obituary.   Will never looked or acted his age…..he had a true heart, loved life and his family, and was reluctant to leave.    The picture captures his personality perfectly….shining eyes with a crooked grin…like he knows a secret .   He was dedicated to BNSF, made work fun, and truly loved (and often talked about) his family.  Many prayers to Maryn, Delaney, and Evan.  Sincerely, Kathie and David

Submitted by Richard Simpson on

It's hard to believe a man with such a forceful and happy go lucky personality is gone. Will was my mentor helping me with my college math courses. He squeezed all he could out of life and always had an upbeat attitude. He has a great family that will carry on in his spirit. He was president of the IHØ and presided over a group of unique hippies. You will never be forgotten brother. 

Though we only had the pleasure of meeting Will once, we became old friends instantly. He was just that kind of person, and I imagine others who had the good fortune to pass through his life had that experience. We will miss him and will honor his memory in our love for Marne.

Submitted by Dave Webb on

I Worked alongside Will for several years in train service on the BNRR in Bellingham.  Will was always fun to be with and we became good friends. One thing I remember  from being around Will was that he always seemed to know a secret that he wouldn't quite reveal.  He was always fun and interesting.  We all miss you Will

Submitted by Lexie Burgess on

What a beautifully written obituary. Will was so fun to work with and always willing to share his railroading knowledge. I will miss his smile.

Submitted by Tom Canter on

Will was a good friend and source of railroading knowledge.  He always maintained a winning smile during the most difficult discussions.  We all knew of his dedication to Marne and the children.  I miss his friendship and input on issues and ideas for improvement.  His youthful energy and youthful looks certainly were a marvel.

Submitted by Beth Zeigler on

Though I worked for the competition, Will welcomed me into the network of Coal railroaders with open arms.  He had a wonderful heart, was incredibly smart and always worked to do what he thought was right.  He will truly be missed.

Submitted by Tom Zolnerowich on

Will was a person who helped make the journey through life more fun and interesting.  I am thankful for time shared.

Submitted by John Mayer on

Principled, fair and honest. I always had a great respect for Will. I will miss our candid and productive conversations. The world is now less one great man. We were all blessed to have known him.

Submitted by Anonymous on

A gentleman and always warm and outgoing!  It's been several years since I'd seen him and I was very saddened to hear of his passing.

Submitted by Dennis Rackers on

A gentleman and always warm and outgoing!  It's been several years since I'd seen Will and I was very saddened to hear of his passing.

Submitted by Karen LeKashman on

You were always clever, a constant negotiator and never in a bad mood.   Rest in peace and may God look over your family.

Submitted by Bill Wallace on

Always enjoyed friendly banter with Will at the gym, with his high level of wit and intellect.

Submitted by Amy Newton on

Will was a kind and considerate man whose smile was contagious.  He always represented BNSF well at coal and rail conferences, as he was always present for his customers.  Will was a true friend to many and will be greatly missed.  May God bless your family. 

Submitted by Molly Mitchell on

Oh Mr. Cunningham...

So many great memories. When I first met Will, he was a constant source of education for me about the rail industry. "Well, Molly..." and then go into an explanation that I would constantly refer back to over the years. I continued to rely on him heavily as time went on as we worked together more and more.

Will was a great friend, a fierce debater when needed, and one of the people I always enjoined seeing. He was also one of my favorite people to tease and get teased by. Will made me laugh and I believe I did the same for him on occasion...sometimes accidently. I always appreciated his smile and gleam his eyes; you knew something was going on behind the curtain. And he always had a good one liner ready!

I am lucky to have worked with him (even though sometimes he challenged me). More importantly, I am so grateful I was fortunate to have got to know Will personally. He is and will be missed greatly.  

Submitted by John Cruikshank on

A shock to hear today of Will's passing. As others have said he always seemed much younger both in looks and his behaviour. A fun and lively guy, we often had some good chats in the gym. Condolances to his family.

Submitted by Chelsea Zussman on

I have been lucky to know Will my entire life because he was a friend of my parents. I got to know him and his beautiful family better and better as time went by and when my husband, Maz, and I moved across the country Will and Marn graciously took care of us for a night, making us feel so comfortable in their home.

Will married my parents and when Maz and I were planning our wedding we thought, who better than amazing Will to marry us and lead or ceremony. He did not let us down and we are so happy that he was such a big part of our special day.

Will was such an amazing, happy, easygoing man and Marn, Delaney and Evan are all in our thoughts.

Submitted by Neil Zussman on

One of our deareast friends,  always looked forward to seeing and spending time with Will and Marne as they'd pass through. We were two of the fortunate ones that were married by Will. Thirty years later he married our daughter and son-n-law. A truely enduring friendship that we always knew would be there and could count on. Miss you bud and all the good times....

Submitted by Carl Sylvester on

Will was an Ambassador. 

He greeted co-workers of all ranks, customers, partners and competitors with that welcoming smile that never faded. He was always willing to share his knowledge about not just the railroad and the coal industry, but so many other things including the profound love of his family that was evident every day. He made you proud to be part of this industry and I was glad to work side by side with him in Gillette for a short three years. He was an icon if the ever was one. 

Submitted by Terri Humphries on

My deepest sympathy to Marne and family.
I had the pleasure of working with Will for years as we shipped coal out of the PRB. He was always available to listen to our issues and work things out together. Ok sometimes he was stern as I tried to stand my ground.
Will was a real gentleman and always had the safety of all people in mind.
He will truly be missed

Submitted by Tammy Wolfe on

I always enjoyed talking to Will, whether on the phone or in person whenever he visited the office here in Ft. Worth.  I never had the pleasure of meeting his wife or children, but he spoke of them often and I could tell just how much he loved them all and what a devoted father he was.  The photograph in his obituary is exactly how I will always remember him.  I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing; he will be greatly missed.  Prayers to his family. 

Submitted by Jill Ellis on

I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know Will both in Fort Worth and I'll never forget the extensive tour he gave me of the PRB (including the new Gillette rec center) and getting to meet his wife Marne for dinner.  Will was a blessing to all who knew him and I pray for peace and comfort for Marne and his children.

Submitted by Doug Simpson on

I'vet known Will since the 1st grade. Our dads worked together in the same small office. We went through school together and went our separate ways. Unknown to each of us we became railroaders, me on the GN and Will on the NP, doing the same thing. We became reacquainted after Will moved to Bellingham 10 years later. We became good friends and I even lived with Will for a while. Will married me and my wife. He was always there to lend a helping hand.  Will had a very full life and made an impact on me and many people in a very special way. I will miss his smile and the interesting conversations we had when we got together. 

Submitted by Cathy Whinnery on

Will meant so much to me and my family.  We had wonderful adventures together, between bike riding through New Mexico to enjoying the California coast at Sea Ranch and having him officiate 2 of our weddings.  I remember his wonderful smile, his positive energy, his dedication to his family and friends, and his never wanting to miss out on a little fun.   He tried so hard (with a lot of help from Marne) to get a cure and have more time with all of us. He was a true friend and will never be forgotten.  

Loving thoughts and deepest sympathy to Marne, Delaney and Evan - Cathy and Neil

 

Submitted by Betsy Monseu on

Will made his mark both personally and professionally, as evidenced by the remembrances here. In representing BNSF in Gillette over the years, he introduced many people to the PRB. He was always proud to show off the impressive transportation and mining operations there, and he was always available to discuss ways to make the PRB even better.

Will, I'll miss your spirit and smile. Marne, Delaney, and Evan, I hold you close in thought and prayer and extend my deepest condolences.

Betsy Monseu

Submitted by Shirley Jordan-Wold on

Marne, Delaney, Evan and  Laura,

You are all in my thoughts.  I only had the pleasure of  meeting Will once;  but 'B' often told me the story of how as a little boy, he loved spending hours  in the attic  playing with his model railway set.  Many times she told me how  truly blessed she was to have such a wonderful family,  and  how very proud she was of Will's many accomplishments, both personal and careerwise. 

 

Submitted by Kathy Paul-Scallen on

Dear Marne, Delaney, and Evan,

Wills upbeat spirit will live on! He will not be forgotten. What an amazing man. He was so proud of his family. He was so nice and enjoyable to visit with. I'm pretty sure he was only 39. 

My deepest sympathy to you all. 

Submitted by Rita Lubnau on

Marne, Delaney and Evan,

I knew your husband and father from Club Energize.  He was always friendly and outgoing.  He had such a young spirit (and was in great shape!) So sorry to hear of your loss. He will be missed. Thinking of you in your time of sorrow. 

 

Submitted by Jeff Wass on

Always there when you needed him

I had the honor of working with Will for many years and although he was never obligated to help us as a contractor he was our biggest supporter. Will would always speak so positively that it was infectious. I will never forget the years we both spent our Summers chasing Our boys around from state to state watching them play baseball. You will be sadly missed. God bless Marne, Evan, and Delaney.

Submitted by Cathy Norris on

A life so very well lived!  Will always gave his BNSF family a special lift anytime we had the pleasure of working with him!  He attended several political events to wave the BNSF flag and he was always a blessing to have with us!  He promoted Wyoming coal every bit as enthusiastically as a "native", but though a consummate professional he never lost sight of the value of the people he came in touch with, no matter what the occasion.  He and Marne were a joy to get to know and it is a huge loss to us all to have him gone far too early.  Prayers for his family especially for comfort now, but also sending up a special thanks for letting us be part of Will's entourage!

Submitted by David Albright on

I just heard the news and was shocked and saddened. I knew Will in Alliance. Truly a great guy and a great loss.

Submitted by Deb and Jeremy ... on

Will was a kind, spirited man who lit the way for others. He was quick with a funny line and thoughtful when he listened. He is missed by many. Condolences to you, Marne, and to Delaney and Evan and all who knew this energetic soul!

 

Submitted by Karin and Dave on

Will is one of those people you don't forget; the kind who brings a smile to your face just to remember the times you saw him.  He was as kind, welcoming and positive as anyone I've ever met.  I have fond memories of trying out that dance class with you and Will.  Dave was relieved that he wasn't the only guy with two left feet.  He was an amazing husband and father, and never met a stranger, as his many friends will attest.  Thank you Marne, Delaney and Evan for sharing your husband and father with us!   

Submitted by Norman Tillman on

I met Will Cunningham while coaching Evan in Little League Baseball. He was a pleasure to have around for games and practices always  possitive and it showed in Evan's demeaner. Even though I only knew him for a couple of years he left a lasting memory. My prayers go out Marne, Delaney and Evan. Thanks for memories.

Submitted by JoAnn Cowan on

The world has lost someone very special with the passing of Will. I never knew anyone who had as many friends or who deserved them more! I hope that you can find some comfort in your many wonderful memories, and in the thought of the happy years you shared. My sincere condolences to Marne, Delaney and Evan.

Submitted by Nancy Rowden on

I finally met Will in 1982 when I moved back to Whatcom County. I say finally because he had worked with my Dad, Calvin Christie at NPRR and BNRR for many years and I had heard many, many stories about him from both of my parents for many years prior to actually meeting him. Will was a part of our family, sharing his life with my parents, myself, and my brother Jim (who also worked for the RR). What I remember most about Will was his neverending, all-knowing "Cheshire Cat" smile that gave you the impression that he "knew" something you didn't. Will loved his wife Marne and his children Delaney and Evan more than life itself, and it was evident in the many pictures, letters, and cards that he and Marne sent our family during their travels and moves working for BNRR. We've not only lost a great friend, but also a brother. You are truly missed dear Will, but never forgotten and always in our hearts.

Submitted by Barbara Whinnery on

When I first met Will, in 1972, he was the embodiment of the free spirit and restlessness of the '70s.  He was friends with my older sister, Cathy, and just being around him was always an adventure! When he met his true love, Marne, that restlessness vanished and he was home.  Unlike many, he did not disappear and keep her to himself, instead brought her to meet all his friends and we all loved her as well!  He did the same with his kids and one of my most cherished memories is the time he brought the family vist us in Santa Monica.  Disneyland and the beach were the goal, and they all slept together on a futon on our living room floor and my favorite part was when they gave my daughter the most beautiful book about a grasshopper who wished he was a butterfly.  And we sat by my daughter's bed while Delaney (such a good reader for her age!) read the story to Sierra to put her to sleep.                  I am so grateful to Will for sharing his joy with us and I am so grateful to you, Marne and Evan and Delaney, for sharing Will with us too!                            My heart is with you all.

Barbara

Submitted by Wiley-Jody Meyer on

We have many fun memories of watching our boys playing soccer together and remember how encouraging Will always was.  Marne, Evan, and Delaney you are all in our thoughts and prayers.

Submitted by Christina DeJong on

Marne--my thoughts have been with you over the past several months. I'm sorry I cannot attend his celebration of life on Saturday, but I'll continue to hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.  ~Christina

Submitted by Kathy Lee Dyer on

Dear Marne and family,  Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  Please hug your family for us and consider our home yours when you are in Colorado.  I look forward to meeting Delaney some day and seeing Evan again and of course you too Marne.  Love to all of you,  Kathy Lee and family

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