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Melbajo's Story

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Melbajo Ann (Cunningham) Butler, a resident of Chouteau, went home to be with the Lord on Monday evening, August 14, 2017 at the age of 88 years, 11 months, and 11 days. Melbajo was born September 3, 1928, in Spur, TX, the daughter of Rev. Will Cunningham, Sr., and his wife, Lula Mae (Moseley) Cunningham. Since her dad was a pioneer Assemblies of God minister, Melbajo grew up in church and remained a dedicated church member and Christian. She went to various schools in Central Texas and finished high school at Southwestern Bible Institute in Waxahacie, TX, graduating at 16 years old.

After school, she worked first as a telephone operator at Camp Hood in Texas, later working as a telephone operator in downtown San Antonio. After her marriage, she worked for a short time in the Treasurers Office in Stilwell, OK. During her life, she worked in various occupations, but she was working as a manager of several apartment complexes when she retired.

In the 40s, Melbajo joined her sister Eulma and brother Billy and formed the Cunningham Gospel Trio, traveling throughout Texas in evangelistic ministry. After she left the group and married Clarence Cecil Red Butler, Melbajo continued playing the piano in church. She also played the accordion, guitar and mandolin.

Melbajos hobbies included a love for mowing her 2½-acre yard as well as a love of writing. She wrote stacks of gospel songs, poems and a few books the majority of which praised her Lord and Savior, Jesus. Her musical partner for years was friend, Calvin Jackson. She enjoyed many hours at Calvin and Sylvias home making gospel CD recordings and enjoying their friendship. Also, she was a wonderful cook and baker. Anyone who ate Melbajos fried pies, banana pudding or fudge never forgot it.

She met her husband, Clarence, in Raymondville, TX, and they married May 30, 1948, at his parents home in Stilwell, OK. She and Clarence moved back to the Rio Grande Valley where their first two children were born. On January 1, 1953, they arrived back in northeastern OK and eventually settled in Muskogee where their third child was born in 1957.

Melbajo became a homemaker and raised her three children, teaching them right from wrong and getting them into church at a young age. When times were hard, her children never went hungry and she always made sure their clothes were clean and ironed. She sacrificed everything for her children.

The Butler home always welcomed family and friends, and numerous relatives lived with them at various times during their lives. When nephew Jimmy, an Army officer, asked Melbajo and Clarence to care for his 3-year-old deaf son, Todd, they immediately agreed. Melbajo made many, many trips between Muskogee and the deaf school in Sulphur, OK so that Todd could come home to be with family. She thought of him as her youngest child. She and Clarence remained in Muskogee until they moved to the Chouteau area in 1989. Clarence died in Little Rock, AR on October 17, 1992.

Others who predeceased her were parents, Rev. Will and Mae Cunningham, Sr., and siblings Lonnie Woodrow, Buster, Mazelle, Evelyn and Eulma Lee, as well as all of their spouses. Also predeceasing Melbajo was sister-in-law Ollie Mae Cunningham (Will, Jr. Bill), as well as nephews Woody Cunningham and Michael Butler.

Melbajo is survived by son Rev. Ronald E. Butler (Londa) of Webbers Falls, OK, daughter Margaret Butler of Chouteau, son Glenn W. Butler (Kelly) of St. Louis, MO, and son/great-nephew Todd M. Ashworth (Amy Tussing) of Staunton, VA. Melbajo is also survived by grandchildren Patrick Butler (Nicole) of St. Louis, Emily Butler (Jonathon Huntzinger) of Dallas, TX, Lindsay Layden (Andrew) of Siloam Springs, AR, as well as four great-grandchildren. Also surviving is brother Bill Cunningham, of Fort Worth, TX, sister-in-law Evelyn Butler of Mountainburg, AR, cousins Betty Dickinson of Fort Worth, TX, and Bill Mosley of Hawaii, and a multitude of loving nieces, nephews and friends.

The family request memorial contributions be made to St. Jude Childrens Hospital (www.stjude.org).

The family will receive friends from 6:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. on Friday, August 18, 2017 at the Locust Grove Funeral Home. Funeral services will be held 2:00 P.M., Saturday, August 19, 2017, at the Locust Grove Funeral Home Chapel. Reverend Roger Miller will officiate. Honorary Pallbearers will be Patrick Butler, Andrew Layden, Jonathon Huntzinger, Vic Grandi, Todd Ashworth, Col. J.P. Ashworth, retd, John White and Calvin Jackson. A graveside ceremony will be held 2:00 P.M., August 22, 2017 at the Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.
Published on August 17, 2017
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