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Roscoe D. Cunningham

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 9, 2020
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHIMKUS. Madam Speaker, I rise before you today to remember Roscoe D. Cunningham--a remarkably accomplished man who made an unforgettable impact in Lawrence County, Illinois in his 97 years.

Roscoe was born on September 15, 1923 to Roscoe and Bessie Cooper Cunningham. He graduated from Sumner High School in 1941, a place which instilled his love of learning and ability to quote poetry. He, then, attended the University of Illinois, but put a halt on his degree to serve in World War II European Operations. He proudly served in the United States Army, Rainbow Division 4th Operations as a forward Observer with the artillery division where he was involved with the aeronautical observation of the dropping of bombs on enemy locations. In 1946, Roscoe was honorably discharged from active duty with the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Returning to U of I, Roscoe earned a JD from the School of Law and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1948. He practiced law in Lawrence County for over 72 years. Roscoe proved to be a strong community leader, dedicating his life to bettering his community in Lawrence County. He was considered one of the county's most vocal advocates and, in 2018, was awarded the Key to the City by Lawrenceville. He also participated extensively in state and national politics, serving as the States Attorney for four terms, the Illinois State Legislature for four terms, and Delegate to the Republican National Convention for three sessions. As an lllinois State Representative for the 54th District, Roscoe also proved to be a vocal advocate for his district. It is noted that he spoke eloquently from the House Floor and he could capture a room's attention. Roscoe was also involved in more than 20 election campaigns throughout the years and he enjoyed meeting with and helping constituents.

Roscoe married Katheryn Suzanne Cunningham on May 1, 1954. They shared 64 years of marriage and raised five children. Roscoe was frequently seen riding bikes with his children and/or grandchildren. At 87, he continued to bike from Sumner to Olney in support of the Special Olympics.

Striving to better his community, Roscoe prioritized community service. He was especially proud of establishing and advancing the Cunningham's Golden Age Club No. 1. His favorite Bible verse was Luke 9:62 which reads, ``No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'' These words inspired Roscoe to re-establish the hometown newspaper in his later years. The sections he created have led to The Sumner Press's legacy as the longest running, locally owned newspaper in Southern Illinois. Roscoe was an active member at First Christian Church for 66 years. He recognized the importance of Sunday School and spent many years teaching Sunday School to participate in the education of young students in their faith. He was a member of many community organizations, including the Lawrence County Shrine Club, Lawrence County Republicans, and a lifetime member of the V.F.W. Post 2244, to name but a few among his expansive list of which he was a member.

Madam Speaker, I take this time to recognize a true agent of change in Lawrence County. Lawrence County will surely miss him, but they are left with his incomparable legacy.