Cover photo for John H Cunningham's Obituary
John H Cunningham Profile Photo
1946 John 2022

John H Cunningham

May 30, 1946 — March 2, 2022

John Holland Cunningham passed away March 2, 2022, surrounded by family and loved ones, on Bainbridge Island, Washington. John was born May 30, 1946, in Los Angeles, California, attended Sierra High School and the University of Oregon/Eugene for one year.

John spent his career working in the utility industry. He started as a lineman for Southern California Edison working in both Montebello and Lake Arrowhead, California. He then moved with his young family to Moscow, Idaho, and worked for Washington Water Power. He left Moscow to work in utility construction and settled in Burlington, Vermont where he met his life partner, Kathleen (Kate) O’Brien. They both had boys in high school and although they’d seen each other in town, they had their first conversation at a back-to-school night. They married on March 10, 1990. After Burlington, they moved to Seattle, Washington where John worked for Puget Power and Seattle City Light. While working at these utilities he was involved in countless committees representing workers' interests. He then worked for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as a Business Rep and then Assistant Business Manager, specializing in Negotiation and Mediation. Throughout his career as a lineman and at IBEW he was sought after as the man of knowledge, a voice of reason, and supporting the next generation in the industry – he was a fabulous mentor. He was also an excellent mediator and it gave him great joy knowing that he did his best to represent the membership and to ensure that workers have safe working environments, adequate compensation, and quality benefit packages.

Serving the community was a passion of John’s. He served on Planning and Zoning, City Council, and most recently the Utility Task Force for Bainbridge Island.

At the age of forty, he found sobriety and was a member of AA until his passing. The many, many relationships that he enjoyed through the program were of great importance to him and served as a solid foundation to his life.

John was ever a student. Whether improving practices or making work safe, he knew his craft as an expert and willingly shared his knowledge with others. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Labor College/Antioch University in his 50s. At the age of 60, he fulfilled a long-held dream and received a Master’s degree from Gonzaga University in Servant Leadership. He always worked to improve his Spanish by reading El Pais and even joined his son in Spain where he studied and lived in a homestay. He was an avid reader of detective novels, sailing books, history books and did his best to support small book stores across the planet. He loved to cook and during the pandemic he had fun experimenting with soda bread recipes.

After 50 plus years working, he recently retired and found joy in remodeling his home with Kate and planning adventures. They LOVED to walk. Bainbridge has a plethora of hiking trails, whether on the beach at low tide or through the lush ferns and cedar trees, they always found a special “bench” to sit on. Pre-COVID, John and Kate traveled to Europe often; they walked the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage route of Spain, pilgrimage routes in France, Portugal, and the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan. He also enjoyed visiting his brother and family in Hilo, Hawaii, his grandkids in Hailey, Idaho, and family and friends in the Palouse.

Although born and raised in Southern California, Bainbridge Island is where he called home. John loved iced coffee (he tithed regularly at Starbucks), a good book and sun on his face., and said Ho-Hum frequently. “We get to experience life,” he often said, and he certainly did. When the sun was out, you would see him on his front porch looking out at Mt. Rainier in shorts and bare feet.

John is preceded in death by his father, Harry Don Cunningham, mother, Marjorie Holland Cunningham, and step-mother Mary Cunningham. John is survived by his loving wife, Kathleen (Kate) O’Brien, brother, Richard Cunningham (Michelle), sons, Don Cunningham (Heather), Fred Cunningham (Alicia), Matt Cunningham (Annette), Scott Beaudry (Xiuli), Chris Beaudry (Susan), grandchildren, Zach, Stratton and Vivian Cunningham, Ellie and Tommy Beaudry, niece, Sarah Cunningham (Patrick), and many loving friends and co-workers.

A celebration of John’s life including lots of time for fellowship will be held on Sunday, June 5th at Islandwood Environmental Center on Bainbridge Island from 12:30-3:30 pm PDT. Those who cannot attend in person can attend the program component online via Zoom (roughly 1-2 pm PDT). Please send a request for a ZOOM invite to If you wish to make a donation in John’s name, his favorites included ACLU, SPLC, or any civil rights organization, as well as those promoting literacy (because “if you can read, you can lead”).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John H Cunningham, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Sunday, June 5, 2022

12:30 - 3:30 pm (Pacific time)

Please send a request for a ZOOM invite to

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