Lena Cotten Cunningham, 81, of Helena-West Helena, was born June 2, 1935, in Helena to Ida Blaine Cunningham and Thomas Gordon Cunningham of Wabash. 

Lena Cotten Cunningham, 81, of Helena-West Helena, was born June 2, 1935, in Helena to Ida Blaine Cunningham and Thomas Gordon Cunningham of Wabash. 

At an early age Lena and her family moved to Barton, where she graduated in 1953.  Lena was a cheerleader, played basketball, and was homecoming queen for the Barton Bears.

After graduation from Barton, Lena attended Ole Miss for one year and was a Rebelette.  After that year she transferred to the University of Arkansas where she became an avid Razorback fan her entire life.  At the university she was a member of the Chi Omega Sorority where she made lifetime friends with many of her sorority sisters.

After college graduation with a degree in elementary education, Lena moved to Dallas where she taught for a year and then moved to Memphis teaching there for 10 years before moving back to Phillips County.  She taught at Jefferson Elementary in Helena, Marvell Academy, and DeSoto School where she taught for over 25 years until her retirement.  During those years at DeSoto School, she would leave there at three and then finish the day at Something Special where, along with Bettye Howe and Gloria Tappan, her partners, she enjoyed a career in the gift shop business.  After the partners sold Something Special, she continued to work part time until she was 80.

Lena enjoyed visiting with her friends and family, going to football games, playing tennis, bridge, and reading and swimming in her pool.  She so much enjoyed her nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews as they grew up around her and thought of them as her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  She especially delighted in traveling the East Coast showing her nephew Cotten all the historical sites because they both enjoyed history so much.

Lena was a member of the Cleburne Avenue Presbyterian Church for 67 years and held a perfect attendance in Explorers' Bible Study for 16 years.

Lena was preceded in death by her parents.  She leaves her brother, Ernest (Cathy) Cunningham of Helena, and their sons Cotter (Edie) Cunningham of Austin, Texas, and Baker (Ashley) Cunningham of Little Rock; Joe Tom (Marcia) Cunningham of Helena-West Helena, and their sons, Cotten (Gwin) Cunningham of Little Rock, and Gordon (Ashley) Cunningham of Atlanta, Georgia and Helena-West Helena. 

She also leaves 10 great-nieces and great-nephews,  Hailey, Peyton, and Truman Cunningham, Will and Walker Cunningham, Blaine Cunningham, Kendall and Liz Cunningham and Katelyn and Sarah Lane Riddell; and two special friends,  Don Hudson and Rita Ann Johnson.

Special thanks to Berenda Pride, Lois Suggs, Lavette Lamar, and Sherrell Gist who provided excellent care during her illness.  Also special thanks to the fine staff at Briarwood Rehab and Nursing Home and Kindred at Home Hospice Care.

A memorial service for Lena Cunningham will be held at 1 p.m., Monday, May 22 at Cleburne Avenue Presbyterian Church with reception to follow.  Reverend Don Montgomery will officiate.

Pallbearers are Cotter, Baker, Cotten and Gordon Cunningham, Bill Howe, Tracy Griffin, Don Hudson, Shelby Snyder and Rita Ann Johnson.

Honorary pallbearers are Dr. M.A. McDaniel, Michael Schwantz, Phillip Gregory, The Ladies Birthday Club, and members of the Cleburne Avenue Presbyterian Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials me sent to:  Explorers’ Bible Study, P.O. Box 425, Dickson, TN 37056-0425, DeSoto School, P.O. Box 2807, West Helena, AR 72390, or KIPP Delta Public Schools, 415 Ohio St., Helena, AR 72342.

Service will be directed by Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena-West Helena. Relatives and friends may sign the online guestbook at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com/westhelena.