Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 21, 2013

Wilma Cunningham Reaves


The Athens Review

Athens — Wilma Cunningham Reaves of Mena, Ark. passed away on May 8 at Mena Regional Hospital after a short illness.  She was 94 years-old.  Wilma was born on May 13, 1918 in Macon County, Mo. to Paul and Bertha Cunningham.

 She was joined in marriage to Leo A. Reaves on Aug. 8, 1938 in Newkirk, Okla.

Wilma was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, brothers Loren, Leonard, Gale and Bernard, her sister Dorothy and grandsons Kent Brownlee and Benjamin Presson.

She is survived by four sons, Lloyd and wife Susie of Bartlett, Tenn., Norman and wife Shirley of Spring Hill, Fla., Larry and wife Mirriam of Jacksonville, Ark., Robert of Bumblebee, Ariz.; two daughters, Barbara Wheeler and husband Joe of Mena, Ark., Linda Presson and husband Dan of Mena, Ark.; 17 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.

Wilma was longtime resident of Caldwell, Kans., where she graduated from high school.  She was the third of 11 children of Paul and Bertha Cunningham to graduate there.

It was in Caldwell where she began sewing.  She became well-known and admired for her skills in making clothing for her family.  She made everything from baby clothes to wedding ensembles for the next 65 years.  The last few years of sewing were devoted to making and outfitting dolls.  Her knowledge of fabrics and sewing led to her working in retail business until she retired at age 88. 

She worked at Karl’s in Caldwell for several years, then at Athens Fabric in Athens,  and finished her career with 20 years at Walmart, also in Athens.

After her retirement, she moved to Memphis, Tenn. to be near her son Lloyd and his wife Susie.  In 2009, she moved to Mena, Ark., where she remained until her death.

Graveside services will be Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 1  p.m. at Longwood Cemetery in Ponca City, Okla.  A celebration of her life will be held for friends and family from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the McCord Senior Citizens Center, 115 E. Mary Road, Ponca City, Okla.  Food and drinks will be served from 2 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Arrangements are under the direction of the Beasley-Wood Funeral Home of Mena.