Community & Editorial
Obituary: Real Change Vendor Terry Cunningham remembered as generous, encouraging
Friends, family and members of the Real Change community gathered May 17 to remember Real Change Vendor Terry Cunningham, who recenly passed.
The service was held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Ballard. Terry sold Real Change for many years in front of Bartell Drugs in Ballard.
If Terry was listening in on his memorial service, he would have been pleased with what people had to say.
Customers who had become his friends, other vendors, volunteers and staff spoke of a kind-hearted man who was always looking out for others.
“Terry always had time for me,” said one vendor who had gotten pointers and moral support from Terry when he was learning the ropes as a vendor.
A woman who tried to be a Real Change vendor and ultimately decided to become a volunteer instead shared that “Terry was the only one who didn’t make fun of me” in her attempts at selling the paper.
Terry supported others and was generous with time, money and encouragement. He was popular with the office staff, one of whom related that when he heard Terry’s voice in the building, he’d make sure he went out to speak with him — it was a special occasion to get to visit with Terry.
Customers also spoke about Terry’s support and encouragement for them. One woman related how Terry helped her believe that she could become comfortable riding her new bicycle, which Terry watched for her while she went into Bartell Drugs.
In a 2010 Real Change profile of Terry, he said the most important thing for him was the willingness to take the time to listen to the customers, to establish long-term relationships and to treat everyone with respect. That he succeeded in these objectives was evident from the remarks of his customers.
Real Change Community Organizer Alex Becker, who had made a video of Terry at his Bartell’s post, described how challenging it was to complete the filming because so many people stopped by to visit with Terry. As one customer recalled, “Instead of complaining about his own hardships, of which there were many, Terry always asked about how things in my life were going and remembered what those things were.”
Terry was remembered for his courage and endurance given the tough working conditions of a Real Change vendor, even after he became sick. He was one of the paper’s top vendors and was always vying to be “Number One” in sales. Photo albums shared by Terry’s family contained reminders of the healthier, robust Terry.
What was the special something that made Terry so loved? According to those who spoke at his service, it was his positive spirit. Rev. Kathleen Weber, who presided at the service, read an online comment sent to Real Change in 2010: “Terry is a shining example of everything that is good about human nature and everything that is good about Real Change. I drive all the way to Ballard once a week to get my paper and a good dose of positive energy. Thank you Terry!”
Terry’s influence on the people he met through his work will be lasting. Longtime customers said they will always hear his voice or see him in his selling spot.
The loss of Terry hits hard. But, Rev. Weber reminded those present, when someone like Terry brings that kind of spirit and encouragement to people, we can think of how it could be if there were more of Terry in our community.
CommentsIf anyone has Terry Cunningham death date I would appreciate it. Thank You
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