Mark Edward Cunningham of Friday Harbor, Washington, husband of Elise Jensen and father of Tierney
Cunningham passed away suddenly on August 31, 2017 in Seattle, Washington, following a severe stroke.
Growing up in Lincoln, NE, Mark was born Oct. 27, 1946 to John A. “Jack” and Doris G. Cunningham (née Lord). His two older brothers Paul (Centreville, VA) and Robert (Orleans, MA), grew up with him in a close family. His brothers fulfilled their noogie duties, Jack always had the newest Chevy on lease, and Doris worked the Huskers’ window during all the college games. Mark was always a fan.
He graduated from Pius X High School in 1964 and set about beginning his “Catholic recovery” in Denver while attending Regis College. The 60s were far from over when he landed in San Francisco for his two-year enlistment, grateful for being stationed at the Presidio and enjoying a few misadventures along the way.
Moving from San Francisco, Mark had a few stops around the nation, before settling in the beautiful Pacific Northwest in 1973. In Seattle, he developed his interest in, and talent for cabinetry, which continued to grow over the years, as did his expanding body of work, which included custom built items for individuals and interiors for sailboat and motor yacht owners.
Mark’s interests dovetailed nicely there, as he was also a talented sailor and seaman, having learned to sail by volunteering on sailboats out of Shilshole Marina. As his sailing expertise grew, he became sought after as a very fine spinnaker handler. His reputation led to participation in four Maui races, and to skippering those boats for the slog back to the mainland.
In the mid-80s, Mark met and fell for a neighboring shop woodworker, Elise Jensen. They married in the summer of 1986 and started a family, adding their only daughter, Tierney, in December of ‘87. Fleeing a growing city, the family moved to Friday Harbor, WA in 1993. Here, they bought land, designed, and painstakingly built their dream home, with on-site shop, of course.
Mark’s artisanship can be noted throughout the town, in dozens of private homes and in public spaces like the San Juan Island Library and the Island Museum of Art. His generosity could also be found throughout the community, from donations of skilled craftsmanship to Island Stage Left, to PTA pies, to manual labor – loads of manure donated to auctions for charity. He helped out those in need everywhere, including actively participating in SJI’s Stand Up Men, a support group to Safe San Juans, working against domestic violence.
Mark enjoyed the company of a regular group in poker evenings and weekly golf outings. His light-hearted competitiveness and high swing tally will be sorely missed, as will his kind heart, generous actions, enthusiastic spirit, and genuine interest in those around him. He never hesitated to welcome acquaintances into his home and his life. He cared deeply for those around him. And thus his family is looking forward to a community gathering to honor Mark, and to celebrate his life, details below.
Mark is survived by his wife Elise, daughter Tierney, brothers Paul (Carol), Robert (Rigney), sisters-in-law, Sandi (Sam), Pam (Tom), brother-in-law Chris (Randy) and numerous nieces and nephews, and their children. As requested in his will, Mark’s corneas have been donated to SightLife. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to make donations to Mark’s favorite organizations: Stand Up Men or Safe San Juans, San Juan Preservation Trust Acquisition Fund or Island Stage Left.
Celebration of and Toast to Mark Cunningham
4-7 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017
Brickworks, 150 Nichols St., Friday Harbor, WA 98250