Justin Tony Cunningham

April 23, 1979September 10, 2018
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Justin Tony Cunningham, 39 years, passed away Monday, September 10, 2018. Justin was born in Odessa, TX, April 23, 1979 to Tony Cunningham and Cheryl Cunningham. He attended LBJ Elementary, Nimitz Jr. High and graduated from Permian High School in 1997. While at Nimitz Jr. High, Justin would start dating the love of his life, Emily Morris, who would be by his side since they were 14 years old. Justin graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government with a minor in Business. After both graduating from the University of Texas, Justin and Emily were married June 2, 2001. Justin would begin his career at the Texas Attorney General’s Office in the Criminal Law Enforcement Division in Austin, TX where his primary focus was on disseminating gang intelligence to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. While working at the Texas Attorney General’s office, Justin began to understand the importance of technology’s role in law enforcement and prosecution. In the fall of 2003, Justin and Emily moved to Ft. Worth, TX where Justin commenced his studies at Texas Wesleyan University School of Law. He graduated in May 2006 with his Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree. After being admitted to the State Bar of Texas in 2006, Justin embarked on his law career as a prosecutor with the Ector County District Attorney’s Office in Odessa, TX. He would leverage his past experiences and knowledge to successfully prosecute numerous gang and narcotics cases. Justin would join the United States Attorney’s Office in March 2011 in Lubbock, TX where he would prosecute drug trafficking, firearm trafficking, wire/mail fraud, bank robbery, child exploitation, and violent crime cases on the Federal level. Justin had significant impacts prosecuting Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force cases involving major drug trafficking organizations. Justin also was awarded the EPA Bronze Medal for participating in a $50 million-dollar wire/mail fraud federal trial team. After 4 years with the United States Attorney’s Office, Justin and Emily would return to Odessa and Justin would go back to work with the Ector County District Attorney’s Office as the First Assistant District Attorney. He represented the State of Texas in the 70th, 161st, 244th, and 358th Judicial District Courts. Justin’s excellent ability in the courtroom was apparent in his numerous felony jury trials. Beyond Justin’s success in prosecution, he was passionate about continuing education and collaborating with law enforcement agencies. Justin attended and facilitated seminars across the nation covering topics such as different prosecution skills and digital evidence. Justin’s reach was also felt with his many relationships across local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. He worked hard to ensure successful prosecution was seen as an end-to-end process starting with arrest. Justin’s innovative approach to trying cases has also changed the face of the courtroom in Ector County with his introduction of using PowerPoint and other technologies. Justin’s significance to the community through his career was immensely surpassed by his impacts as a wonderful father, husband, brother, and son. He will be remembered by his unwavering loyalty and willingness to help anyone at any time. Justin was naturally curious and his knowledge of various topics was seemingly endless. He was a fantastic storyteller and spoke with infectious enthusiasm. Conversations with Justin often resulted in covering topics from breaking news to recently launched technology. Outside of Justin’s many talents, his true passion was fishing. The love of fishing started early in Justin’s life with frequent family trips to Possum Kingdom Lake. Justin continued his tradition of sharing time with friends and family while fishing throughout his life. He had no greater joy than when he could fish with his son, Hunter, who was born March 30, 2008. Justin delighted in showing Hunter various fishing techniques and testing out new fishing gadgets. Preceding him in death were his grandmother Audrey Foster, father-in-law Mike Morris, and niece Faith Ann Cunningham. He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Emily; son Hunter; parents Tony and Cheryl of Odessa, TX; mother-in-law Becky Morris of McKinney, TX; brother Kyle and his wife Shelley of Midland, TX; grandparents Larry Foster of Midland, TX, and Francis Cunningham of Weatherford, TX. Justin will also be forever remembered by his numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, dear friends, and colleagues. Pallbearers will be Brandon Smith, Roland Cobos, Clay George, Jason Leach, Joe Commander, Randy Lewis, and Jason May. Honorary Pallbearers will be Judge Denn Whalen, Judge W. Stacy Trotter, District Attorney Bobby Bland, Kyle Cunningham, Christopher Morris, and Michael Morris. Visitation will be held from 6-8 pm, Thursday, September 13th at Hubbard-Kelly Funeral Home and the funeral service will be at 1pm, Friday, September 14th at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Harmony Home CAC, 910 S. Grand Ste. C in Odessa, Texas 79761; Choices Mentorship and Leadership, checks made payable to Stayfitstayrich and sent to 206 West 10th Street in Odessa, TX 79761; Texas Fallen Officer’s Foundation, 13154 Coit Road Suite 102G in Dallas, TX 75240.


  • Harmony Home CAC
  • Choices Mentorship and Leadership, checks made payable to Stayfitstayrich
  • Texas Fallen Officer's Foundation


  • Visitation Thursday, September 13, 2018
  • Funeral Mass Friday, September 14, 2018

Justin Tony Cunningham

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Ray Whisenhunt

September 14, 2018

May our condolences bring you comfort and may our prayers ease the pain of this loss of Justin.
Ray and Tanada Whisenhunt
Bedford TX

Rod and Joy Whisenhunt

September 14, 2018

Sorry for your loss. You are in our prayers.
Rod, Joy, Robin, Roger Whisenhunt

Matthew McCabe

September 14, 2018

The kindness and loving care Justin showed and extended to everyone he met regardless of our name, position or current situation was remakable. Justin always ready to help or show he cared more than just politeness. His loving care was nonjudgemental and obiviously a refection of the love and joy he had enjoyed with his loving family, his best friend brother, and upbringing from his amazing Mom and Dad. Justin you will be forever rembered with greatful friendship-filled memories.

Randall Mayes

September 13, 2018

I don't know of a person or player who fought harder to be a Permian Panther. In the grand scheme of things, you would often think in the adult world that probably was not that important. As successful as Justin has been, I would beg to differ. As a player, Justin battled pain, the normal player did not have to battle. I came in contact with his battle with juvenile diabetes ( I don't know if I worded that or remembered that properly) in 1994 when he was a sophomore. I know the days he battled the medical aches and pains of his sickness just to meet the "normal " demands of Permian football: 3 station rotation, gassers, 300 yard shuttle, mats, etc. etc. This battle continued through his senior year when he became a varsity starting offensive lineman. I don't really know if any of this seems important, but I would like to think that his guts and determination in those days had a lot to do with his and Emily's success as husband and wife and parents, and Justin's success in fighting crime in this state. If a family could be a template for young marrieds it would be the Cunningham family. From you, Cheryl showing up at the hospital with Cynthia and I and new baby Kyndal in 1999, to you Tony, being my booster club president Twice!, to making sure in 1997, I would not be without a great middle linebacker in Kyle. I never coached a day as head coach without a Cunningham on the roster. You all gave me much more than I gave you. I cannot fathom the pain and heartache that you are feeling right now. All I can do now is read Philippians 4:8 - 13. That's what I have to read and concentrate on, because I don't get it. Emily, I sure don't get it. But we're humans and we're not going to get it until we are with Justin and Jesus. I am very honored to have shared in your lives for six years. I just got off the phone with Heath. I think everyone who played at PHS from 94 - 96 marveled at how tough and what a great person Justin Cunningham was.

Kristi Lester

September 11, 2018

Cheryl, Tony, Kyle & Shelley,
Emily, Hunter and all Justin's family,
We are praying for you all at this time. There are not words to express our broken hearts for you. Justin was simply a champion of a man, wonderful husband, father, son, brother, son in law and beloved friend to so many. The wrongs he has righted on this earth will surely be richly rewarded by our Father above. But the hurt remains with us here still.
We are asking God to send you peace and that when your sadness is too heavy to bear, to know that the Lord is with you. That He is covering you all in the shelter of His wings.
Love you all so much,
Brian & Kristi Lester & family.