Cunningham, Don Aaron

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Retired Radford University professor Dr. Don “Doc” Aaron Cunningham, 61, passed away at home on Friday, November 28, 2014 after a decade-long struggle with cancer. Dr. Cunningham was born March 7, 1953, in Dallas, TX.

Survivors include his wife, Lynn; son and daughter-in-law, Cory and Sonia Cunningham of Ogden, UT; daughter, Sarah Cunningham and granddaughter, Eliyana Griggs of Lexington, KY; three sisters, Patricia Harris of Richardson, TX, Dr. Mariam Cohen of Scottsdale, AZ, Caroline Hart (Doug) of Sterling, VA; brother, Michael McCollum (Brigada) of Anacortes, WA; brother-in-law, Dr. Wayne Witte (Judy) of Oconomowoc, WI; and numerous nephews, nieces, other relatives, and friends.

Dr. Cunningham was an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Radford University where he taught courses in Professional Writing, Business Writing, and Advanced Technical Writing. As an Adjunct Professor at Virginia Tech’s Language and Cultural Institute, he also taught a Scientific and Technical Writing course for international graduate students. Prior to joining the faculty at Radford University, Dr. Cunningham taught graduate and undergraduate courses in Technical Writing, Technical Editing, Academic Writing, and Freshman Composition.

In addition to numerous academic publications, Dr. Cunningham also authored three books on Japanese feudal era history—Secret Weapons of Jujutsu, Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai, and Samurai Weapons: Tools of the Warrior. In December 2014, Dr. Cunningham was honored as Black Belt Magazine’s 2014 Weapons Instructor of the Year. He was a noted international level competitor in the Olympic sport of Kodokan Judo. Dr. Cunningham earned a second dan black belt license in 1992 from the Kodokan Judo Institute in Tokyo, Japan.

Dr. Cunningham earned a PhD in Technical Communication from Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago (2005). He is an alumnus of Texas A&M University-Commerce (formerly East Texas State University), with a Master of Science (1984) and a Bachelor of Science (1978), both in Journalism.
As a professional journalist, Dr. Cunningham was an award-winning reporter, photographer, and news editor for several daily newspapers in his home state of Texas and in Florida.

For twenty years, Dr. Cunningham worked in the telecommunications industry as an editor, technical writer, documentation manager, and applications engineer for central office switching system manufacturers specializing in the international (Pacific Rim) markets. His former employers include NEC Corporation, Fujitsu, Nortel, Tellabs, and Lucent (Bell Laboratories).

Dr. Cunningham was a member of Radford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 776 and served as Senior Vice-Commander. He was also a member of American Legion Harvey-Howe Post 30 and Marine Corps League, New River Valley Det. #1190, both in Radford.

A senior member of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), Dr. Cunningham served terms as the Chicago regional chapter’s vice-president and president. He was also a member of Association for Teachers of Technical Writing (ATTW), Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication (CPTSC), and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

In 1993, Dr. Cunningham was raised to third degree Master Mason at James B. Green Lodge #735 A.F. & A.M. in Raleigh, NC. He was a member of Virginia May Lodge #38 A.F. & A.M. in Radford.

From 1971 to 1975, Dr. Cunningham served as a Hospital Corpsman Second Class (Fleet Marine Force) in the U.S. Navy and as a Field Medical Service Technician with the U.S. Marine Corps. Dr. Cunningham was honorably discharged at the non-commissioned officer rank of Hospital Corpsman Second Class (Fleet Marine Force). He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, Humanitarian Service Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Fleet Marine Force Insignia, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross with Palm and Frame), and Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Civil Action with Palm and Frame).

Visitation will be from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm Monday, December 1, 2014 at Mullins Funeral Home & Crematory, 120 West Main Street, Radford, VA. Virginia May Lodge #38 A.F. & A.M. will perform Master Mason Funeral Service at 7:00 pm. Masons are asked to assemble at the funeral home at 6:45 pm.

Services will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, December 2, at Grove United Methodist Church, 1020 Tyler Avenue, Radford, VA. Interment will be at Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery, 5550 Bagging Plant Road, Dublin, VA.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Cancer Society or Radford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 776.
The Cunningham family is in the care of Mullins Funeral Home & Crematory in Radford.