MISSOULA — Lorraine M. Cunningham, 95, died Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, at the Village Senior Residence.
Lorraine was born at home in August 1922. It was a breech birth. Her doctor claimed she wouldn't live, and if she did, she would never walk.
Luckily, Lorraine's grandmother was a midwife; with her expert guidance, Lorraine did indeed walk, at the age of two, and has lived a long and interesting life!
Lorraine met her future husband when they were teenagers in Baker. She lost a button off her dress and Frank found and kept it to tease her. On one of their first dates, the two went roller skating — this evolved into a love of dancing together. The couple would learn the latest steps from magazines and impress everyone at the local dances. Lorraine and Frank became a permanent "duo" when they married in 1940. World War II began and Frank joined the Air Force, serving as a fighter pilot until the war ended. Like many military wives, Lorraine moved from base to base with her husband, living in Utah, Nebraska, Illinois and California. Soldiers' wives weren't hired on military bases because they would leave the jobs whenever their husbands were transferred. Lorraine and Frank wrote a letter to Senator Mike Mansfield drawing attention to this inequity. The senator not only came to the base to speak personally with Lorraine, but was instrumental in changing this hiring practice so wives of servicemen could work on the base. Lorraine took jobs driving trucks, transporting everything from garbage to rations, from barrels of fuel to famous officers. Once she even chauffeured Major James Stewart, the actor!
After the war, the couple moved to a farm near their hometown of Baker. They had two children, a boy and a girl, and when the kids were ready for high school, Frank and Lorraine bought rental apartments in Missoula. They felt schools were better here and their children would be better prepared for college. They also would have a good college close by. Both of their children graduated from UM. During this time in Missoula, Lorraine went to night school to learn typing and bookkeeping so she could do the taxes for their business. Lorraine did much of the managing of their rental properties alone since Frank was still running their ranch in Baker. Frank passed away in 2005.
Lorraine moved to Village Senior Residence in 2013. She enjoyed Yahtzee and other brain games, and all kinds of music. She walked every change she got. While Lorraine may have entered the world facing the wrong way, her stories showed this sweet lady facing her life and it's challenges head on!
She is survived by her son Lane (Maureen), daughter Rita (Larry), grandsons; Obie (Meghan), Graham (Libbi), and granddaughter Alicia. Great-grandsons; Isaiah, Noah and Henry, and Great-granddaughter Morgan. She is also survived by her two sisters; Virginia (Russ), and Pat (Jim). Funeral services are planned for Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. at the Sunset Memorial Funeral Home. Interment will follow at the Sunset Memorial Gardens with refreshments following in Community Room.