Mary Dawn Cunningham left us on November 23, 2023 in the early morning hours. She was widowed on September 24, 2008,after the death of her husband, Ernest Cunningham. She is survived by her daughter Katy Cunningham and her son William Cunningham.

Mary Dawn was born in Alameda on June 7, 1927 to Mary and Mark Melendy. Soon after they came to Humboldt County and lived in Freshwater until they moved into their house in Eureka, on M Street.

Mary Dawn attended Lafayette Elementary School, then Eureka Junior High, Eureka Senior High, where she excelled as a student. After graduating high school, she attended Humboldt State College majoring in education. After graduation she taught 1st grade at Freshwater Elementary for three years.

Friends introduced Mary Dawn to Ernest Cunningham, and a romance began, ending in marriage on December 27, 1949.

They purchased a home in Eureka in 1951, living in that home for the rest of her life. Mary Dawn and Ernest started a family and had two children: Katy Eileen Cunningham and William Ernest Cunningham.

Mary was tremendous homemaker. As well as being a participating mother in her children’s education, she was also active in PTA, Beta Sigma Phi Sorority and the local 4-H Chapter. she was also very knowledgeable regarding local Humboldt County history and wrote number of articles about various local historical events.

She loved to travel and enjoyed the family trips in their small RV, touring around the country.She and Ernie also enjoyed a partnership with another couple, and owned a local laundromat together. After selling the laundromat, Mary and Ernie went traveling in Europe, discovering more information on their family heritages.

Mary Dawn lived comfortably through the rest of her life in the house they purchased in 1951.

Mary Dawn Cunningham passed away gracefully at home at the age of 96, with her children. There will be a graveside service on December 21, 2023 at 11 a.m. at the Oceanview Cemetery. Family and friends are cordially invited to attend.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Mary Cunningham’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.