In Memory

William Joseph Cunningham

William Joseph Cunningham

Joe passed away unexpectedly on May 17, 2012.  We received the following tribute from Station KUAM News, May 17, 2012

 Guam - The entire island of Guam was shocked to learn of the passing local music legend Joe "Uncle Tote" Cunningham.  

 Few people take life by the horns and live it to the fullest. But anyone who had the amazing opportunity to know Uncle Tote knew that he always made his dreams a reality. Whether it was visiting New York City at the young age of 18 to see his heroes perform at jazz clubs every night, or opening for Hoobastank a few years ago with the Breakdown Band accompanying his two sons, Trey and Brandon, Uncle Tote had a zest for life that he shared with everyone he met.  

 "Don't be afraid to follow your dreams, because Joe did, and look he lives in our hearts forever," shared former KUAM radio personality Cindy Hanson of her longtime friend. And Mille Leon Guerrero added, "I'll never forget the best pipes ever - the speaking, the singing. Just the voice.

 For years Tote's distinctive voice carried over the radio airwaves as he hosted various shows. Hanson and Leon Guerrero recall the days when they worked alongside "the roller skating disc jockey" at KUAM. "Seeing him skate up and down Marine Drive along the parade route or actually having to try and get out of his way when he went skating by you in the radio station, or watching him play his flute while playing music on the air," they laughing said.  

 Cunningham had a distinctive voice, a child-like but contagious smile, a great sense of humor and the ability to play and write music.  He made his mark on the local music scene years ago with J.D. Crutch and Marianas Homegrown.

 Chris "Malafunkshun" Barnett recalls playing in the Breakdown Band with Uncle Tote, saying, "We were playing a gig and we were about three songs into the set and I look back and he was drumming with one drum stick because the other drum stick flew. He was the kind of guy, that one drumstick. Whatever life gave him he kept on and he always had a smile on his face."

 He was proud to be from Louisville, Kentucky, but called Guam home. And while the island community and his three children mourn his passing, Cunningham posted a message on his Facebook page shortly after celebrating his 67th birthday last year.

 Hanson detailed his note, saying, "The one thing he wanted was for no one to be sad - don't be sad, don't cry, don't grieve for me - you should be happy that I've graduated to the next adventure."

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09/01/13 09:07 PM #1    

Christine Pugh (Potters)

Joe and I were good friends in high school and reconnected much later, sharing memories of our growing-up years (as children, we lived on the same street) as well as current news.  We corresponded frequently until some point in 2012, but I did not know that he had passed until I read the news here.  Joe truly lived his dream.  I've missed hearing from Joe, in peace, my friend.

09/02/13 12:30 AM #2    

Samuel Clifford Jordan

i am always saddened to se one of the good guys pass ... happy for him , sad for us  ... as always bye joe !!!

10/22/14 11:40 PM #3    

Stan Tucker

Thanks for sharing Peggy.

10/23/14 12:52 PM #4    

David Neideffer

We are all better people for having known him,  I wish he was still here.  David

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