Lillian "Billie" Preysz Cunningham, 93, of Myrtle Beach, S.C., died peacefully Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, following a brief illness. She had been living in Wilmington, N.C. at The Brightmore for the last year.
Born on Oct. 23, 1919, at Elkins, she was the daughter of the late Louis R.F. Preysz and Clara "MeMe" Preysz.
She attended DeSales Heights Academy in Parkersburg and graduated from Elkins High School, where she was honored in the yearbook as Miss Tiger Queen. She attended Davis & Elkins College and graduated from Stephens College in Missouri majoring in education and design.
Her grandfather, on her paternal side, was a delegate from Randolph County to the West Virginia Legislature in the late 1890s. Her great-grandfather and great-grandmother were among the original Swiss settlers who founded Alpena in 1879.
Her father, Louis Preysz, started the Rainelle Lumber Sales Corp. in Rainelle, later the West Virginia Lumber Co. He was president of the Bank of Rainelle until his death in 1949.
Both her great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were captains in the Norwegian Army and were presented with a Seal and Coat of Arms by the King of Norway for military distinction in the war with Sweden in 1808. Both were national heroes in Norway and their military genius is written in Norwegian history. Her paternal grandfather, Gottfried Preysz, was the author of several volumes of Danish and Norwegian history.
In 1940, she married her high school sweetheart, Yost Cunningham, and settled in Chicago. There she was a model for Patricia Stevens Agency and did volunteer work for the Girl Scouts, before moving with her husband and daughters, Lou and Jane, to Myrtle Beach in 1957. There they owned and operated The Breakers Hotel Resort until 1972.
While living in Myrtle Beach, she was actively involved in the local beauty pageants volunteering hours of her time. She was a member of First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach and a member of the Dunes Club since 1958. She was an active real estate agent.
She is preceded in death by her husband, Yost Cunningham; and daughter, Lou Cunningham of Charlotte, N.C. Also, her beloved sister and best friend, Josephine Forester of Myrtle Beach.
She is survived by one daughter, Jane Cunningham Elebash and her husband, Peter, of West Palm Beach, Fla. Also her nieces, Tricia Ellison and her husband, Morton, of Charleston, S.C., Dottie Forester of Jackson Hole, Wyo., Quincy Forrester of Charleston, S.C., and Sandra Jane Marks and her husband, Dr. Hank Marks, of Wilmington, N.C.; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
A memorial service at First Presbyterian Church of Myrtle Beach, Kings Sanctuary, will be conducted Thursday, Nov. 15, at 11 a.m. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to North Myrtle Beach Humane Society. An online guest register is available at SUN NEWS.com. The staff of Coble Ward-Smith is honored to serve the family of Lillian "Billie" Preysz Cunningham.