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Obituary: Gerald “Gerry” Arthur Cunningham ’45

Gerald “Gerry” Arthur Cunningham, 88, died May 15, 2010,  at his home in Patagonia, AZ. He was born February 17, 1922.

Gerry, an inventor and entrepreneur,  was preceded in death by his Antiochian wife, Ann Carman Cunningham ’45, and is survived by his children, David, Peter and Penny Cunningham, daughter-in-law Jeanne Richardson, five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandson.

He founded the Gerry Company, maker of outdoor equipment, and was the first proponent of the nylon and down sleeping bag, which Gerry invented.  He also invented the Gerry Kiddie Carrier, in which small children could be carried on their parent’s back.

In the late 1960s, Gerry teamed up with fellow Antioch alum Meg Hansson ’46 to write “Light Weight Camping Equipment and How to Make It,” (4th ed. Colorado Outdoor Sports Corp, 1968), later published by Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, New York. 1976. Gerry and Meg also joined forces to form Gerico, which later became Gerry Baby Products, as Gerry left to pursue other interests.Meg Hansson was CEO and Chairman of Gerry Baby Products Company.

Gerry was  the owner of Gerry Cruising Charts since the mid-1980s, and started surveying and charting the anchorages of the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortez, over 40 years ago. He published charts of the San Carlos area in 1970, and the first edition of Cruising Guide to San Carlos in 1985.

Gerry opened a store, Mountain Sports, near Boulder, CO, in 1958. This occurred five years after he brought Gerry Sportswear into being in 1953. Some of the early mountain climbing gear sold in the 1950s and 1960s was "Gerry's Equipment," designed by Gerry. These products were staple equipment in those days when climbing was enjoyed by a few experienced hands. He is considered the grandfather of the insulated products business, which includes sleeping bags as well as clothing.