Chrysler 300 Club International

Gil Cunningham
March 12, 1942 - June 12, 2022

Gil Cunningham and the Chrysler 300 Club International. The two are inseparable in my mind. Back in the summer of 1984, the phone rang and Gil asked if he could stop by. He was on vacation in the area, saw my name in the roster and figured he would say hello. I was a new member of the club. I didn't know anyone and all I had was a ratty rusted H coupe but Gil stopped by anyway. I've never forgotten his warm and engaging personality, his encouragement and advice.
Gil's list of accomplishments is impressive. He wrote stories for the newsletters. We have six of them on our stories page. He wrote technical articles. Gil hosted four meets including our first meet in 1970. He held numerous offices in the club and served as our first club president. Fittingly, Gil received the first lifetime achievement award.

The messages below will show that Gil's love of letter cars and of the club was without bounds.

I've known Gil for a shorter time than all of you but always found him a delight and respected and enjoyed his comments. Gil surprised me with his decoding of my F, when he [correctly] advised me that it was never an a/c car. Since it had an a/c dash and cowl, I had assumed it started with a/c and that was subsequently removed. This certainly explained why my generator, various pulleys and brackets weren't on the car. I of course wasn't surprised when he mentioned my F rolled off the assembly line with its coat of Toreador Red exterior paint, complemented by its tan interior. Though I know some Club members have commented on my F's interior and exterior wearing incorrect colors, Gil never did, and I've grown to like the car the way it is.
As we say in Greek - Aiwnia h mnhmh - May his memory be eternal.
Noel Hastalis

I am so sorry to hear the news. I never had the pleasure of meeting him in person.
Nick Taylor

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. He was a wonderful man.
Frank & Cathy Messina

Gil and Carol were the first club people I met in person, the first of many who inspired my involvement. Gil holds a special place with me. I "thot" (as Gil would write) it fitting to take the G out today. I went to a show on old Route 66, officiated by NHRA legend and former letter car owner Chris Karamasines. I picked up this trophy. Maybe Gil was looking down on the cars. I will always remember it from this day.
Andy Mikonis

Our sympathy to Gilís family and all that loved him. He will be missed.
Rick & Debbie Clapham

This is sad news. Gil Cunningham's passing is a great loss to all of us in the 300 family. He will be dearly missed.
Keith and Judy Boonstra

Gil was a thoughtful man and really a treasure who cared deeply about the Club and the cars. I consider myself fortunate to have spent time with him last year, though it was difficult to see him so compromised.
He is free now but all are better having known him while he was here.
Rest in peace Gil. And thank you for your friendship.
Mark Obermann

I wish we could have met him back in the day. Thanks go to Gil and many other long time club members for the legacy of the club and what it means to those of us trying to preserve (and drive) 300sÖ Itís more than a club, itís a community.
Dave & Kya Mason

With heavy heart and mind Marnie and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Cunningham family. Gil will be missed. He provided the strong keel and rudder to make our Club what it is today and a respected entity for authentication of our Letter Cars. Always helpful, courteous, and responsive. Gil and Carol provided our Club with enlightenment. He was a giver and we were blessed to receive his gifts.
Marnie and Rob Kern

Gil has just always been there. Truly hard to comprehend. My best to his family.
Tim Tomlinson

Gil was such a sweet man. Our lives have been enriched by knowing him. He was our first President AND our ďFirst Man.Ē
Tony Rinaldi

I think I'll best remember Gil sitting in the red H, late at night smoking a pipe and watching the old parking lot crew party away into the night. I asked Carol about it and she said - oh he does that. I never asked him what his thoughts were but I sure was curious. He looked exactly as if he was reenacting the 300 commercial. You know the one where the guy is driving the convertible with the pipe in his mouth. We all shared different pieces of him. We were incredibly lucky to have known him.
Gloria Moon

Gil was always so academic, but soft-spoken. A real class act. I enjoyed speaking with him alone in the parking lot in the late evening because you always came away with some tid-bit of knowledge you hadn't known before. He made everyone feel like you had been his friend for years.
Gloria, maybe when he was sitting in the H, smoking his pipe in deep thought while watching the others, he was thinking something like "I can't believe I actually enjoy hanging out with this rabble."
Kathy and my thoughts and prayers go out to Carol and the Cunningham family. Gil will be missed.
Brian Frank

I am very sorry to hear about Gil's passing. He always wrote back with a nice note when I had a 300 vin decoded. I always looked forward to seeing him at meets. He will be missed.
Don Verity

My sincere condolences to Gil's family and friends and to all of you for whom Gil was mighty important and mightily loved. I never met him nor many of you who he left behind. I've not been in the club long and I'm working to catch up. In so doing I've read about Gil and become aware of his irreplaceable contribution to the letter car world. I am thankful for Gil's presence and contribution for which we have all benefited.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet
Danny Plotkin

A truly great guy, I've spent many an hour at Meets talking to him about everything under the sun. We all will miss him, RIP dear Gil.
Ray Jones

Caroline and I are very sad to hear about Gil. He helped me a lot when I first got my 300C restoration project, as I was a complete novice about these cars. We had the chance to meet with Gil and Carol when we attended the Lancaster PA meet and Gil gave us a ride in his blue 300F at 70 MPH with the top down.
A first for us Aussies and something Iíll never forget.
Henry Schleimer

My condolences to the Cunningham family at this time of their loss.
There were a few people who were instrumental in forming the Chrysler 300 Club, but the one name that always comes to mind is Gil Cunningham. It was at his house in Holly, Mi that the first gathering took place for what would become the 300 Club.
Gil was an encyclopedia of knowledge about the Letter Cars and a perfectionist when it came to what was original when it came to restoring them. His high standards have helped maintain the positive influence the Club has had through the years.
Gil has held the record for having attended the most Meets of anyone for many years. I believe that record of 79 meets still stands.
My thoughts and prayers are with Carol and his son, Graham, and daughter, Angela.
Don Warnaar

During the 2005 Reno/Tahoe 300 International meet, one of the side tours took us to the oldest bar in Nevada; the Genoa Bar and Saloon. There, my brother Ed and I had a great time talking 300s with Gil and it made for lasting memories. My condolences to his wife Carol and family. He will be missed, but his contributions will live on.
Bob Jasinski

Gil Cunningham was Mr. 300. He will be missed and never replaced.
Joe Gross

Pat and I send our regrets about Gil "Mr. 300". We lost a legend. Our condolences to Carol "Mopar Mama" and family. We had a lot of fun. Rest in Peace Gil,
Don Cole

While I never directly met Gil I am aware of his vast Mopar/300 knowledge and have seen some of his beautiful cars. My condolences to his wife, family, and close friends.
Mike Cortel

We are very saddened to hear this unwelcome news. Bonnie and I did not know Gil and Carol and therefore, missed what would have certainly been a good friendship with them.
Of course, we knew of Gil and his legendary status as a founding Chrysler 300, Intl member. But for Gil's efforts (and those of a few others), we wouldn't be in our club. But we take some comfort in being a small part of Gil's lasting legacy.
Our sympathies and prayers go out to Carol, Gil's extended family and to all those who loved him and called him friend.
Caroll (Rip) and Bonnie Ripley

I had the good fortune to meet Gil, My first thoughts, he is a genuine nice guy. Rest in peace my friend.
Gary The Parts Doc Nelson

Gil was most helpful and responsive when I was tracking down correct spark plug wire for my '61 crossram NY wagon. I even have those back and forth emails saved on my computer from 2008. His genuine good nature and friendliness will be remembered by me and everyone. Godspeed Gil.
John Cote

Last night I thought long and hard about something and thought I'd share it with you club members. I was very fortunate to call both Gil Cunningham and George Riehl my friends. Over the years Christie and I became close with Gil and Carol along with George and Eleanor.
The night Eleanor passed George phoned us and we talked for what seems like hours. It hit me a bit later as to why we were picked for that call of all of his many friends but it stuck in my head that he felt close and comfortable with us.
Gil phoned often and we too would have long conversations about anything and everything but usually centered around the cars, members and what was going on in general within the club. On numerous meets we would travel with Gil and Carol and have our own mini meets usually after the club gathering. Those times were and are very special to us.
By chance Gil called one morning when I was at work and we were three hours different in time. I happen to have my TV on in my office that day and when I saw what was going on I asked Gil, "do you have access to a TV?" He said yes and turned it on. We both watched September 11, 2001 unfold before our eyes. The following year the four of us were at the World Trade Center location.
My final thought on this post is that at the Ashville meet I remember Gil and George out in the parking lot with a bucket shucking and eating oysters as fast as they could. Not my taste but those to guys were having the time of their lives. I trust my friends are together once again sharing a story or two and looking for further adventures. Gentlemen, Godspeed to both of you and I hope our paths cross again.
John Lazenby

I have attended several 300 meets and never met Gil, though he was at many I attended and I regret that. But my connection to Gil goes back to the summer of 1973 when I got my rusty old F. Having little knowledge of what to do or how to do it, I contacted the 300 club with questions and enter Gil Cunningham. Thru letters back and forth he gave me the confidence to tackle the F and next year will be 50 years with the car. Had he not spent the time and energy, I probably would have sold the car.
He was great and I can say I saved all his letters. Now they mean even more. Rest in peace Gil. Thanks for being you,
Steve and Sandy Beard

Gil was a soft spoken, genuinely nice person, always helpful. One of the first person to speak to me at my first meet in 2004. He was a class act, and a living library of 300 letter cars, really. Rest in peace.
Jean-Yves Chouinard

First, I remember vividly the very early days of our club; George, Eleanor, Gil, Carol, Jerry Kocur, me, and Bonnie too. And so many important others too. And a blue F.
While not clear now, I think it was at the Proving Ground meet I first attended. We toured Jefferson Assembly. I remember several workers were still on the line who remembered building our 300 F. Gil had to be the one who set that up through Chrysler. I am not sure how he saved the 300 microfiche but he did. A critical save.
As life happens, later I sort of dropped out of active 300 gatherings after an initial set of maybe 10 meetings. My company started to grow and life took over. But years later I came back to many friends new and the older ones too. Gil was always there, ready to help. It was his nature to help.
All have passed on now, in that shortened ad hoc list except Carol and me. All are loved, all wonderful people who marked many lives, certainly mine. That our club exists as it does today honors their effort. It will continue to do so.
Bonnie was so young and we all laughed. How I will remember Gil.....happy, all of us laughing.
Thank you Gil for all you did for us. We miss you.
John Grady

Sad news about Gil. He was a very nice guy. I enjoyed a lunch with him at Branson and looked forward to many chats over the years.
Lindsey Fuller

My condolences to the Cunningham family at this time of the passing of Gil.
Kathy and I first met Gil at our first meet on October 10, 1971 at Hershey. It was a chilly and wet afternoon but we still had about 15 300's there. I don't remember everyone that was there but it's also when we met Allan and Gloria and Terry McTaggart.
Gil was a wonderful friend and founding member of our club/family. He has done so much for the club, its members and shared the love and affection we have for our Letter Cars and he will be missed.
Rest in Peace Gil,
Charlie and Kathy Valentine

I always enjoyed interacting with Gil at 300 meetings -- it was quite easy to do! As a former F owner, I always found Gil to be ready to answer any question I might have about my car. I was particularly appreciative of the decoding Gil did at the meets with judging. He will be greatly missed.
Al Vannice

I just heard today and so sad of our dear friend passing. Gil was as helpful as could be when you needed some 300 info and guidance. While traveling for work in the 70s Gil and Carol opened their home to me and always felt so at home. He will missed. RIP Gil.
Glenna Armstrong

I became a member of the Chrysler 300 Club International, Inc. in February of 1975 after purchasing my 1957 Cloud White 300 C Convertible In West Virginia. The car was a 29,000 mile car -fairly complete, in need of restoration in my view, but running well enough to drive it to Canada in one day. The only hard item that was missing on the car was the grille medallion- it seemed all of them had the propensity to fall out after the adhesive had dried out.
The first time I met Gil & Carol Cunningham was in the spring of 1975 at the Louisville meet- sans car. We struck up an immediate and enduring friendship that lasted. I was in the process of restoring the 300 C over the next year. We used to visit each other quite often over the time that Gil & Carol lived in Holly, MI. My goal was to have the car completed in time to drive to Indianapolis for the June, 1976 300 meet. During one of his visits in March, 1976, Gil said there was no way I was going to have the car completed in time. Well, that inspired me, and being a hell of a lot younger than I am now, was able to work on the car to the wee hours of the morning, almost every night and get up & be back to work for 8:30 AM. I didnít say I was smart!
Well, three days before the Indy Meet I drove the ĎCí to George & Eleanor RiehlĎs house in Ann Arbor, MI. George and Eleanor were very close and dear friends as well. If I wasnít at Gilís house I was at Georgeís house. I think they felt sorry for me because I was still single in the early years. George & I caravanned to Indy. The only thing I was missing on the car was the grille medallion. When I got to Indy, Gil pulled me over to the side and told he was surprised and pleased that I made it. He handed me a NOS Grille Medallion with chrome bezel in the original box and said that my car deserved to have it installed before the judging began. He would not take a nickel for it, even though I insisted. That shows you the type of person Gil was. He was extremely passionate about the Chrysler 300 Club and members. He was always giving of his time and help.
I have met many friends within the 300 Club over the years, but Gil, my dear friend, I will miss you !
Paul Del Grande

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