Christopher William Cunningham

December 19, 1949March 4, 2018
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Christopher (Chris) William Cunningham was born in London, Ontario on December 19, 1949. He was the oldest child and only son of William and Ilma Cunningham. Growing up with three younger sisters was a challenge he more than lived up to – being both the older brother, as well as self-appointed “adventurer-in chief”. His family remembers him as one who never backed down from a challenge, was always ready with an opinion or better idea, and challenged them to embrace life at its fullest.

Chris came with his family to California in October 1953, eventually settling in Whittier, CA. He was a proud alumnus of the Whitter school system, attending Macy Elementary, Starbucks Intermediate, Lowell, and La Serna High Schools. He later attended Cal State University Fullerton.

As a resident of Costa Mesa, CA for over 42 years, he managed a Goodyear auto store, owned a wine storage and delivery business, and worked as an accountant for several firms including Reid-Thomas, Mitsubishi and as a consultant to the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) for Telacu/Carpenter.

Chris’ most beloved activities focused on educating others about wine. He was an active member of the Orange County Wine Society for over 30 years, serving numerous times on their Board and holding many positions including President in 1980 and Vice President in 1985. Chris served as OCWS’s inaugural Chair of the Extraordinaire, and was an active volunteer supporting the Summer Wine Classic. In addition to his service to the Wine Society, he also served on the Wine Steering Committee at the Orange County Fair's Commercial Wine Competition. His passion for wine included his own wine-making endeavors, culminating in a silver medal for Home Wine Making. Chris was a recognized lecturer on the wine tasting circuit and was featured in numerous presentations over the years. He was a talented sommelier, and supervised many tasting events including the Winefest, which benefited local charities.

Although Chris carried the life-long burden of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, he lived his life with strong determination, unfailing spirit, and a positive outlook before passing away peacefully on Sunday, March 4, 2018. He is survived by his mother, sisters Janet Hartmann, JoAnna Schilling, and Laurie Little, and brother-in-laws, Brent Little and Steve Schilling. He was also the proud uncle of four nephews and two nieces as well as three great-nieces and one great-nephew. He will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the Orange County Wine Society and will be placed in the scholarship account for granting to California colleges in Chris’ memory. Donations can be made by check and sent as follows:

Orange County Wine Society P.O. Box 11059 Costa Mesa, CA 92627


  • Memorial Service Sunday, March 11, 2018
  • Reception to follow Sunday, March 11, 2018

Christopher William Cunningham

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Linda Wilson

March 20, 2018

Thank you soooo much for sharing your photo album, beautiful and such a tribute to Chris and his early years with family. We went to high school together and then I got to see him a few years ago at a small high school reunion at my house. The memorial words you have written about him are so perfect! Happy memories of an amazing man. Wish I’d taken advantage of his wine expertise.😘

Donna Sozio

March 11, 2018

I have so many fond memories of Chris over the years. He was always zipping around the party laughing and talking to everyone. Always a smile and ready to crack a joke. He made sure everyone had a glass of the best wine. He will be greatly missed! I'm sure he's only drinking the best vintages in Heaven. Warmly, Donna XOXO