I recall one morning, many years ago, when I rushed into the faculty room at the old El Toro Marine Corps Elementary School. In those pre-Starbucks days, Principal Stu Cunningham and I always headed straight for the huge coffee pot — we both needed our first cup of coffee, no matter how bad it tasted. Well, this particular morning, I excitedly started to tell Stu about one of my new ideas, when he interrupted me and said, “Carolyn, you forgot the topic sentence.” I remember thinking at the time that it really didn’t matter, because Stu was so supportive that he would listen to whatever my idea of the day was.
That word — support — was the common thread in the Facebook posts when I announced Stu’s passing. Some recalled his support of counseling services for kids. Others remembered his support for teachers. Also remembered was his loving spirit, his wonderful smile, and that he was a genuine, nice guy. A former IUSD School Board member called him an “inspirational leader.”
We salute Stu for his long and dedicated service to the Irvine Unified School District. He was Principal at University Park Elementary, Vista Verde Elementary, El Toro Marine School, and Brywood Elementary. Thousands of Irvine families, teachers, and children benefitted from his leadership…and support.
Stu passed away on August 4th, after battling Alzheimer’s for five years. His wife, Jeri, notified me and my husband, John, who was a fellow Irvine principal with Stu. Our thoughts and good wishes are with Jeri and their family. We hope they know that Stu truly touched the lives of many thousands of people.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Stu Cunningham on Wednesday, September 14, at 2:00 p.m. at the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest (Tent No. 2).