of West Helena, AR
January 1, 1939 - February 4, 2023
Joseph Thomas Cunningham (better known as Joe Tom) passed away at his home on February 3, 2023. He was born January 1, 1939, to Thomas Gordon Cunningham and Ida Blaine Cunningham in Helena, Arkansas.Joe Tom deeply loved his family, his friends, his church, and his community.He served in the Arkansas Air National Guard where he made many lifelong friends as a young man. Prior to that, he attended the University of Arkansas where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. Joe Tom loved the Lord and was a Charter Member and Elder of the Cleburne Avenue Presbyterian Church until its closure in 2018. At that time, he believed it was important to be a part of a Christian community and joined the Helena First United Methodist Church. He was nicknamed "the praying man" by the children of his family because he believed that you needed to acknowledge and invite the Lord into all your situations. He lived by that principle of prayer until the last days of his life.Joe Tom was a devoted hardworking businessman. He ran Cunningham, Inc., a propane, gasoline, diesel, and bulk oil business that serviced agricultural, industrial, and residential customers and owned and operated several Kwik Stop convenience stores in East Arkansas, with his father, T. Gordon Cunningham, brother, G. Ernest Cunningham, and son, Gordon A. Cunningham, for close to 60 years. He believed in good service and his motto was, "We are faster, friendlier, nicer and easier." He enjoyed his business because he really cared about his customers and greeted them all with a smile, a handshake, and a coke or bottled water. Joe Tom was appointed to the Arkansas Liquified Petroleum Gas Board by Governor David Pryor in 1977 and served on that Board for 42 years under seven different Governors, Democrat and Republican, until his retirement in 2019.A graduate and former quarterback of Barton High School, Joe Tom was the Voice of the Barton Bears on KFFA radio station for almost 40 years giving tirelessly and enthusiastically of his time to bring the Barton Bears football games to Phillips County listeners. He was honored this fall at the halftime of a ballgame as the first recipient of the school's Distinguished Alumni Award.Joe Tom served on the Board of Directors of Partners Bank (formerly known as Helena National Bank) for 39 years and was Chairman of the Board when he retired from the bank in 2021. He was a long-serving member of the Helena Harbor & Phillips County Economic Development Board. He also served on the DeSoto School Board and was President of that Board for two terms.Joe Tom enjoyed running, exercising, and playing tennis and snow skiing with his many tennis and ski buddies throughout most of his life. He loved people, had a great sense of humor, and a servant's heart. His life was a life well lived.Joe Tom was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Lena Cotten Cunningham.Those who are left to cherish his memory are his wife of 56 years, Marcia Johnson Cunningham; his two sons, Cotten (Gwin) and Gordon Cunningham; his precious granddaughters, Kendall, Blaine, and Liz Cunningham; his brother and wife, Ernest and Cathy Cunningham; sister-in-law, Karen Johnson Barrow (John); nephews, Cotter (Edie) and Baker (Ashley) Cunningham and Harley (June) and Russ (Darnella) Barrow; and great nieces and nephews: Hailey, Peyton, Truman, Will and Walker Cunningham and Cole, Reid (Vinessa), Peyton and Gage Barrow.A Celebration of Life is planned for Monday, February 20, 2023, at 2:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church, 502 Porter Street, Helena, Arkansas, with a reception to follow the worship service in Hendrix Hall of the church.In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials be sent to the Barton Athletic Department, 5995 Highway 49, Lexa, Arkansas, 72355, for the refurbishing of the Press Box at Frank McClellan Field where Joe Tom called many a game on the radio or the First United Methodist Church, 502 Porter Street, Helena, Arkansas, 72342.
I didn’t grow up in Phillips County or Barton School. I got to know Joe Tom from our business gatherings through the Chamber or at the Post Office. When they moved into their new building we rented the old building. Everyone knew where it was. Joe Tom was always the gentleman and always had a big smile. My prayers and thoughts are with his family. Your loss is Heaven’s gain.
So sorry to learn of Jo Tom's passing. Knew him while living in West Helena. God Bless and be with all those that loved this wonderful man. 🙏 Heaven has gained a servant of God. He will be greatly missed by all.
REST IN PEACE MR JOE.
Mr Joe Tom was a great man’s and a good friend of the family. He will be missed but we’ll se him again soon! Praise Jesus!!!
Mr. Joe Tom was an awesome person. Always a kind word and smile for everyone. We send our prayers to his family.
Dear Friends of Joes, I want to extend my grateful thanks for all the years of friendship you extended to my husband. He truly was a man who loved and respected ALL people. He showed us the the smallest expressions of kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness and love can impact the lives of a whole community far and wide. His aim and motivation came from the fact that he loved the Lord and wanted to reflect that in his life. He would tell u right now he was never perfect but he did his best. And I know he did. My family and I extend our heartfelt thanks for all your expressions of comfort and caring for us. It is greatly appreciated!Marcia Cunningham
The Darnell family sends our love to our old and dear friend Joe Tom and his special family. We thank Joe for showing us how a life should be lived. Not many people leave this life with the love and respect of everyone who knew them but Joe did. He will be remembered always as the one friend who can’t be replaced. Joe Darnell
Rest in peace. Mr Joe Tom. My former employer and friend. It was a pleasure to have known you for many yrs. Condolences to the family .
My heart aches with your loss of Joe Tom, he was such a gentleman and very kind to us when we moved there. My prayers and love to you and your family. I rejoice he is home with his Lord and Savior.Nancy Fewell Downey
Joe Tom was always gracious and so much fun! I have the best memories of Joe Tom and Marcia. And I’m better for knowing him. So very sorry and prayers for Marcia, Cotten and Gordon.
I can’t remember a time not knowing Mr. Joe Tom. He was the nicest man I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing business with. Not to mention back in the school days as well! Our community is at a great loss! Prayers for all of the Cunningham family
My condolences to the Cunningham family. Joe Tom is one of the finest men I have ever known. when Mohawk Rubber Co. closed Joe Tom gave me a job. I worked for Joe Tom and Ernest for over 26years. I saw how important his community was to him and how important he was to his community.He helped so many people in so many ways. I will always be grateful to the Cunningham family forso many years of loyalty, friendship, and support to me and my family. my thoughts and prayersare with the Cunningham family. Roy Reynolds
So sorry to hear of Joe Tom passing. Grew up going to Cleburne Ave Presbyterian Church along with him . He was very nice person and always had a friendly hello.
Met Mr Joe Tom in 1980, fresh out of highschool. He never forgot a name. Always had a hand shake, smile, and a coke and hotdog for me. Great guy. Big loss to our community. Rest in peace Mr Joe.
The Cunningham family lived next door to my uncle, Arcie Ginn, met Tom while visiting, he was a great guy ! The community will miss Joe!My condolences to his family and loved ones.
Mr. Joe was one of finest men I’ve ever met. He will be missed in Phillips County. Lots of memories of him calling Barton games when my son played. He gave Ryan his first job. He was kind and generous to his community. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.
Sorry to hear this, known him for years we went to school together, such a good guy, He will be missed. Praying for the family that they keep all the memories they shared and that the God he loved so much gives comfort and peace to them. He has gone home but he is waiting just over Jordan for you.God bless and keep you in the circle of his rms.
Sorry to hear of my friend, Joe Tom passing. The world has lost a great human being.
Condolences to all family and friends. Mr. Joe Tom was a true Southern Gentleman. He had a uncanny memory. Always a smile and kind word...
Gordon, your dad was such a nice person and he will truly be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your farmily.
Marcia, Mary and I want to send you our Most Heart Felt Condolences and Prayers at such a time of Great Loss to you and your family.
He was a great man to know and work for.
I want to express my condolences and deepest sympathy to the family. May you each be comforted. God bless you.
Sorry for your loss.he was a heck of a good guy with the best memory l ever seen
So sorry for your loss, he will truly be miss.
Really going to be missed. Very hard working Man. Nice, Friendly person and would do anything for you. Prayers for the family.
Our Thoughts and Prayers to Joe Toms Family during this Hard time. He was a One of a Kind.
Victor and I always enjoyed seeing Joe Tom around town and talking with him. He alway had a smile and encouraging words. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this time.
So very sorry to learn of Joe Tom's passing. Prayer for God's peace and comfort to Marcia and all family and friends. Joe Tom was such a special person and a friend to anyone who ever met him. Always smiling and a good word to you - just made you feel special. He will be missed by so many and such a loss for family, friends and Phillips County. Herbert Evans
Marsha, Cotten, & Gordon, Henry and I loved Joe Tom so much. He has been there for our family for years, and would always take time to do everything that was asked of him. He will be missed by everyone that was blessed to have him in their life, and we are so happy he was in ours. Our prayers will be with you all as you go through life without him. Much love, Henry and Billie Sue Rohrscheib
Marcia, Cotten and Gordon Our sincere condolences. So glad to have known him. Robert and Ann Lee
Mr. Joe our condolences for your Family and Friends. This community will greatly miss you. Your friends; Bubba and Betty Laxson🙏🙏
Joe Tom was a great man. He provided the McClellan boys jobs to make a little spending money. He was the radio voice of the Bears for many years. He was always a friendly man with a smile on his face. I’m glad I was able to know Joe Tom as he was good to everybody.
We are so sorry to hear of Joe Toms passing and we send prayers for all the family during this time .
Marcia and family, I’m so sorry. Joe Tom was such a wonderful person. I always enjoyed my visits back to Cleburne Ave. and visiting with him. He always made me feel so welcome and never failed to ask about my children by name. A life well lived.
So sorry for your loss a long time friend
Dearest Marcia, Cotton and Gordon and all the Cunningham's....I was so saddened to hear of Mr. Tom's passing. He was a very special man that contributed much to Phillips County. He always had a smile and a kind words no matter where you saw him. Our loss is Heaven's gain. Praying for peace and comfort for your family in the coming days, weeks, months and years. Hold tight to those Precious Memories. Love and prayers....Barbara
So sorry to hear of Mr. Joe Tom's passing. He was a very sweet man and always had a wonderful smile everytime you saw him. He will be forever missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family!
To all of Joe Tom’s family, I was so sad hearing about Joe’s illness and then his death. He was a wonderful and very kind man. I was fortunate enough to get to play tennis with him when we were still playing and he was the perfect gentleman. To say that he will be missed is an understatement, but I know he is with the Lord and not suffering anymore
Such a terrible loss for our community. Mr. Joe Tom was such a good, kind and sweet man. Hugs and prayers for Mrs. Marcia, Cotten, Gordon and the entire family.
Many wonderful memories of Mr. Joe Tom. From buying propane to talking Barton Bear Football. Truly a great man. May God give your family peace.
He gave and he gave and he gave right up until the end. I’m not sure any words can do justice to this man and his life. He and others like him made up the fabric of our community. I don’t think they can ever be replaced. The best thing we can do to honor him is to try our best to emulate him, even if that probably isn’t possible. We can try, and maybe that’s still not good enough, but we can still try. Rest in peace, my friend, you have earned it.
You are all in my thoughts and prayers during this challenging time. Mr Joe Tom was a special man to many. He was a wonderful neighbor with a kind heart. I loved his smile!
May God continue to comfort you all through these grieving hours...❤love you all❤
So sorry to hear of your loss. Joe Tom was always so kind and good. He was a great example to our growing family in 70’s and 80’s. He will be sorely missed. My best to you, Marcia, always a smile and kind words.
So sorry to learn of the passing of this really good man. Condolences to Marcia, his sons, and all who loved him.
Very nice person and he would give you a drink of some sort sorry for your loss prayers for the family and friends god bless you all
My father, Fred Graves, and brother, Leon, knew Joe Tom well. They always had good things to say about him. Dad met Joe Tom, as he was digging ditches, many, many years ago, learning the business. He was certainly a pillar of the Barton community for years, as we all know. I wish the family condolences. Not easy, as we all know.
HE will always be in our thoughts and Prayers to his family
You will be greatly missed my good man Well done faithful servant. Rest In Peace
What a special man, loved by so many. I’ll always remember his voice announcing Barton football games and around DeSoto. He was always very sweet to me, as he was to all.
He is a true legend. He will surely be missed! I am praying for Ms Marcia, family and all! RIP my sweet friend!
Mr. Joe Tom will be missed by all who knew him. He outgoing personality made every he met become a friend. With deepest sympathy to his family.
Prayers and love
Mr. Joe Tom was was a one of a kind man. He will certainly be missed by so many! Prayers for his family!Sorry for your loss,Butch and Edie Sanford
I have such fond memories growing up in West Helena and going to church with the Cunningham family.Mr Joe Tom was such a wonderful person and was always so good to our family.
We always enjoyed seeing Mr. Joe Tom with a friendly smile and a warm handshake. We really appreciate his dedication to the Barton Bears, he was indeed a true Barton Bear fan. We will continue to pray for all of you during this season of grief.In Christ, Fred and Terry Baker Garrison
Condolences, he was very special. Our lose is the Lords gain. Till we meet again.
I am so sorry for your loss. I have several stories about Joe Tom. He was a true gentleman and I held him in high esteem. My prayers are with you all.
I am so sorry to hear this news. Joe was a great family man and very respected in his business. I am glad that I had the opportunity to meet him. My prayers are with Marcia and Joe's entire family
May God give all family and friends peace, comfort and strength. He will be greatly missed by everyone!
Praying for all of your family. May GOD give you peace. Marsha thinking of you.
Mrs. Marcia, Cotton & Gordon, We are so sorry to hear of Mr. Joe Toms passing. We were privileged to have known him and call him a friend for many years. Our thoughts and Prayers are with you and your families through this tough time.
Marcia you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Joe Tom was such a special friend. Jim Diane Marla Caren Adam Mayer
Marsha and boys so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you all. Prayers for you.
I'm so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with your family.
Mr. Joe Tom was a great man. I enjoyed visiting with him when he sold propane. He will be missed
My sincere condolences to the Cunningham family. I've known Joe Tom and Marcia for 41 yrs. I worked at their Gulf stores many yrs ago. Joe Tom was a great boss and even better person. He will be missed.... Theresa Taylor
Dear Cunningham family,Phillips County has lost a treasure, that can never be replaced. Not only was Joe Tom a friend, an entrepreneur. He was the voice of the Barton Bears, that he loved so much. RIP, my friend. He was a participant in so many activities trying to improve Phillips County. He will be missed by so many.
So sorry to hear of your loss. I grew up knowing Mr. Joe Tom and doing business with him, and it was always a pleasure just being around him. He will be sorely missed. Prayers for all his family.
Mr. Joe Tom was a wonderful man. He will be missed so much! He always thought so much of my dad and we thought the world of him.
Marcia, and family. I am so sorry to hear this sad news. Holding you all in my heart, with love.
So sorry for your loss of Mr Joe Tom He was one of a kind prayers for all family and friends
There will never be another man as loving and caring as Mr Joe Tom. I will always remember the outpouring of support when my brother Mike passed away. There is a special place in heaven for men like him. R. I. L. and know that you will be missed.
Peace be with you all .
Sorry to hear about Mr. Joe passing Prayers for the family
So sorry for your loss.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Prayers for Marsha and the family.
Joe was a good man full of kindness and fun. Many warm memories of Joe during my Helena days.
So sorry for the loss of y'alls loved one.