Bethel Cunningham, October 22, 1924~October 8, 2015

Bethel Cunningham died on Thursday, October 8, 2015. She was predeceased by her parents, Elmer and Mamie (Holland) Payton; brothers, James Edward and Roy Elmer Payton; and sister, Helen Arnold; first husband, Paul Cunningham; second husband, Elbert Durham; and son, Leslie. She is survived by her brother, Rusty Payton; son, Paul Ray Cunningham; 3 grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

At Bethel’s request, there will be no services.  Inurnment will be at a later date.

Submit A Condolence

To submit a condolence to the family, please comments below. When your condolence has been received by Beard's Funeral Chapel, we will post here on the website for family and friends to read.

Leave a Condolence

Condolences (7)

    Peggy @ Tanglewood Drug Store » 11. Oct, 2015

    On behalf of the staff of Tanglewood Drug Store we send our sympathy to Paul and the family. I personally spoke with Mrs. Cunningham many times and she was such a gracious lady!

    Rick & Lynette Warren Cartwright » 11. Oct, 2015

    Very sorry for your loss, she was a special lady, an asset to the College.

    Mary Ella Earle » 12. Oct, 2015

    Bethel was a precious and dear woman. I will miss her.
    Sympathies to her family and friends on your great loss.

    Name » 12. Oct, 2015

    I only knew Bethel in the past couple of years, but thought she was a very nice and interesting lady. Although her newspaper obituary didn’t mention this, from chatting with her I think she was a college graduate and had a professional occupation. This kind of accomplishment is rather a rarity for a woman of her generation. Also, I saw that she was good to Mr. Durham when he was in failing health, and she bore her own health issues with dignity. My condolences to her family and friends. — Michele Utterson

    Mary Alice Kenney » 12. Oct, 2015

    Bethel was a gracious lady, a dedicated professional (long-time University of Arkansas faculty member), a kind caregiver, and a generous friend. We will miss her greatly.

    Alice Burt Fletcher » 12. Oct, 2015

    I have many wonderful memories of Bethel. She was my high school home ec teacher and then I had her at the U of A. She was so kind to all the students and tried to teach me to sew. I still can not sew but I appreciate her patience and encouragement she gave me. I enjoyed visiting with her at Butterfield too. I will remember her telling about riding a horse to school even in the cold wintery weather. She was a dear person and friend. My prayers are with the familly. Alice Burt Fletcher– Russellville, Ar.

    Teresa Perkins » 15. Oct, 2016

    Dear Family of Mrs. Cunningham,

    I just learned today of her passing. I am sorry for your loss. Mrs. Cunningham was such a wonderful teacher. She scared me to death for the first few weeks of class, but I quickly learned to appreciate her intensity and desire for us to get it right. I had her for several Foods classes at the U of A.

    Currently, I am a Culinary Arts teacher myself. I spent the last 8 years running the state’s only student run restaurant. Without the knowledge and expertise that Mrs. Cunningham taught me, I would never have been successful. My culinary teams won the state competition 3 times and placed 2nd or 3rd the other times. More importantly, I want you to know that I continue to try to teach the science behind cooking just like Mrs. Cunningham taught me. Her words are always running through my mind when I’m working with my students.

    Thank you for sharing her with me. She was an awesome woman, and my life wouldn’t be the same without her influence.

    Teresa Perkins