Arthur Troy Cunningham, Jr.

Published 2:18 pm Friday, July 29, 2016

Arthur Troy Cunningham, Jr died on 24 July 2016 at Houston Hospice, a haven of comfort for his final days, thus ending his brave struggle with complications caused by thyroid cancer.

His mother Rachel McGill Cunningham and father Arthur Troy Cunningham preceded him in death. He is survived by sisters Cay Cunningham (partner Jim Murtha) and Rachel Joan Cunningham (partner Kenneth Jurischk), niece Rachel Hopkins Miller (partner Filiberto Martinez) and nephew Donald Hopkins (wife Cecilia Calvelo, children Henry David and Clara Marina), and longtime girlfriend Gaynelle Smith.

Troy was born 12 December 1946 in Orange, TX. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High school in Port Arthur. He studied welding for short time, then hired on with Mobil Oil to work in the engine room of their cargo ships. He served in the US Army from 5 Oct 1967 to 17 May 1969, driving trucks through combat zones in Vietnam.

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After Vietnam, Troy went to California, worked an assortment of jobs, and then obtained his seaman’s license as an engineer. He served on container ships and tankers, opting for six-month tours to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. He took advantage of his travels by visiting famous landmarks like the Pyramids. But he also enjoyed immersing himself in small towns, getting to know the local people. Like many travelers, he gained an appreciation of the differences between cultures.

From March 1980 to September 2009, he was an active member of Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA), the seafarers’ union.

Music was an important part of Troy’s life. He played piano and guitar well enough to surprise and delight his friends. He, Gaynelle, and his buddy Murphy often rode bikes to San Leon-area watering holes that featured live music. His gift to niece Rachel of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s album “Willy and the Poor Boys” elevated her taste from bubble-gum pop to solid rock

Troy’s passion was motorcycles, Harley-Davidsons to be precise. At age thirteen, he and his buddy David rode their Cushman motor scooters over the tallest bridge in the South spanning the Neches River from Port Arthur to Orange County, to swim, waterski, and dance at Joe Bailey’s on Cow Bayou. Within a few years, they both graduated to Harleys. This love of the open road endured all his life.

Troy had a way with words. He collected expressions. If you were going out on the town with him, he’d ask if you had your personality with you, meaning money. As a teenager he called cars “cages” but later referred to a car as “your ride.” When Rachel was thirteen and Troy was thirty, she recalls riding with him in the countryside – he referred to it as getting into the wind. When nephew Donny opened a bottle of fine wine for him, Troy pointed to the cork in Donny’s hand and said, “We won’t be needing that.”

Although he didn’t play team sports, as a youth Troy was an accomplished water skier, able to jump ramps and be towed backwards astride a chair atop a circular board. In later life, he became a black mogul snow skier and excelled at shooting pool.

One measure of man is how he confronts adversity. All his family and friends admired Troy’s quiet courage these past months.

The family will celebrate Troy’s life and scatter his ashes at a private ceremony in the coming weeks.

Friends wishing to commemorate Troy may lift a glass or make a contribution to Harley-Davidson Foundation, Houston Hospice on Holcombe Blvd, or a charity of their choice.