June 20, 1930 – November 10, 2021
In Loving Memory ~ Lt (Ret’d), Sqn AdmO, Mary Martha “Marty” Cunningham (née Gallant) passed away peacefully after a short illness at her care home in Parksville, BC on November 10, 2021, with family by her side.
Marty grew up in Summerside PEI and was very proud of her French Acadian blood. In 1952 at age 22 she left home with her younger sister Edna in tow to join the RCAF. It did not take long for Marty to be posted to Europe where she took every moment to enjoy herself (pictures don’t lie).
After many wonderful experiences with the RCAF Marty met Captain Perry Cunningham and they were married in Bistroff France. Marty was honourably released from the RCAF in 1956 and had their first son Chris in Montreal, Mike in Edmonton and their daughter Cathy in Chatham, NB.
After living the Airforce life and moving many times across Canada the family was posted to CFB Comox in 1971 where Perry retired. After living off base for a short time the family then moved to Red Deer, AB. Now, if you know Marty, she had a love for owls (her house was full of them). It started when she became a Brown Owl with the Girl Guides of Canada in Red Deer. Marty with her genuine love of young people had many adventures camping and hiking with her girls.
While in Red Deer Marty went back to college to earn her Teachers’ Aide diploma. Deciding that the prairie life was not for her and newly single, Marty moved with her daughter back to the Comox Valley 1978 where she bought her house (her pride and joy) on Noel Ave. With her love of reading, books and children Marty chose to start her life back in the valley as a Library Aide and worked in many schools (Lake Trail, Village Park and Airport), where she was fondly known as the Lady of Library or Mrs. C.
In 1995 Marty retired from the school system but, was already busy with her next stage in life. She was lured back to the military and had started her 17- year career as a Cadet Instructor with the 386 Squadron Air Cadets. She was so proud of her cadets and their accomplishments that any young person she encountered got the talk on how wonderful the life can be.
After retiring from the cadets Marty did not stray far. She started volunteering at the Comox Airforce Museum. Her knowledge of the RCAF was extensive and anyone who knew Marty knew she loved to chat about the Air Force. It was the perfect retirement job for her.
As dementia started to take Marty’s precious memories, her eyes always lit up when her Airforce Association Magazine showed up. In true fashion Marty always went first to the “Last Postings” to see if there was anyone she knew. She will now have her own special post.
Marty will always be remembered for her love of reading and her gift to chat and fortunately both stayed with her until the end. But most important was the unconditional love she had for her family and friends. That was evident by the numerous birth and wedding announcements and obituaries she had collected which started her passion for genealogy.
Marty always had a strong connection to her Acadian roots. She often talked about the Doucette family reunion in PEI in 2007 and cherished the photos from the event.
Marty was predeceased by her parents, Edward Joseph Gallant and Mary Alma (Doucette) Gallant and sisters Edna “Eddie” Leech, Eleanor Clancy and Margaret “Peggy” Porr. Marty is survived by her children, Chris (Jennifer) Kamloops BC, Mike (Rhonda) Sylvan Lake AB, Cathy (Eric) Surrey BC and brother Joey (Nancy) Summerside PEI. Four grandchildren Maggie, Kristal (Arron), Kyle, Kalinda (David) and four great-grandchildren, Jace, Lyla, Felix and Bastion.
She will also be remembered by her extended family and wonderful friends.
The family has many people to thank in the Comox Valley as it took a village to help Marty on her dementia journey. Special thanks must go to Marty’s neighbours Bill and Marg, your help and watchful eye were so vital to Mom’s care and safety and to Wendy Johnstone (Keystone Eldercare Solutions) who’s care and support for both Marty and the family was invaluable.
Special mention to Stanford Seniors Village in Parksville. All the staff with a special nod to the nurses and care aids who were Marty’s angels during her stay (especially during the covid lockdown) were amazing. You kept her safe and connected to family.
Words cannot express our gratitude for your unselfish and compassionate care of our mother.
With covid fears still high a small private service will be held in early December. A celebration of life will be held in June for family and friends to attend. In lieu of flowers donations will be graciously accepted by the Comox Airforce Museum and Alzheimer’s Society of BC.
We love you dearly mom and you will be so missed. I am sure you are already organizing heaven’s library.Obituary
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