Tuesday was a very depressing day for many who grew up attending Dodge City Public Schools. Former USD 443 superintendent, Alan Cunningham, passed away on Tuesday at 65 years old. The reason has not been confirmed yet.

“The school community and even the city has been shocked and saddened to hear the tragedy of the passing of Alan Cunningham, a man who served the district for 43 years and certainly touched thousands of lives,” said current USD 443 superintendent, Fred Dierksen. “I was fortunate to consider Alan a friend, and it was privilege to know him for the last 3 decades when I was in Jetmore and Sterling and he was in Dodge.”

Cunningham graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1974 and began his teaching career at Northwest Elementary that same year. He has been a major asset to the Dodge City school district since then.

After years of hard work and dedication to the students and staff of Dodge City Public Schools, Cunningham retired on June 30.

“For the first time in my career, I know it’s time,” Cunningham said in a previous article. “I could have retired 8 years ago— I had enough points in the Kansas retirement system to take my full retirement, but I knew it wasn’t time yet.

“I tell people that I’ve been getting up and going to school every day for 60 years, since I started kindergarten 60 years ago. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I don’t have to get up and go anymore.”

Dodge City Public Schools made an announcement of the news on their Facebook page on Tuesday.

After the post was made, several community members responded.

“Mr. Cunningham was truly an awesome individual,” said Howard Earl Spencer, special education teacher at Comanche Middle School. “Even with all the district employees that were under him, he knew your name and had a smile for you. He will be truly missed by many!”

“I’m shocked and so sad for his family,” said Cherisé Forno. “He was a great man, and he truly cared about every employee and student in the district!”

“This is a very sad day in Dodge City and southwest Kansas,” said former DCHS teacher Justin Coffey. “Alan Cunningham dedicated his life to serving kids in Kansas. Thank you for all you gave.”

Dierksen says that though this is a sad time for everyone, Cunningham’s strong faith is reassuring.

“I knew him as a man of faith, so there’s the assurance of everlasting life,” said Dierksen. “Alan and I also share a passion for kids, he impacted so many lives, whether it was a new superintendent, or a teacher or students, he was always helping.”

As of Tuesday, no funeral arrangements have been made and no obituary has been released. For now, many grieve and reminisce on the good memories they share with such a great man.

“I want to thank Dodge City and USD 443 for taking a young teacher, fresh out of college in 1974, and letting me learn, make mistakes, grow and still keep me around,” Cunningham had previously stated in an article. “It has been my privilege to be a part of this school district and community. It was a great place to start my career and great place to end it.”

To contact the writer of this story, email egarcia@dodgeglobe.com.