Death of William Cundiff, former missionary to Japan
Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of William (Bill) Stanley Cundiff on Sunday, December 27, 2009, at Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California. Bill served as a missionary/teacher in Sendai, Japan, from 1952 to 1995.
Mr. William S. Cundiff (1930-2009)
Global Ministries is saddened to learn of the death of William (Bill) Stanley Cundiff on Sunday, December 27, 2009, at
Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California . Bill served as a missionary/teacher in Sendai, Japan, from 1952 to 1995.
Bill was born on March 4, 1930, in Mount Vernon, Ohio, the only child of Ruth Henry and Reverend Wood B. Cundiff. Reverend Cundiff, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, served in several parishes in Michigan and Ohio during Bill’s childhood.
Bill was an accomplished and versatile pianist, beginning his study of piano in first grade. In an autobiographical statement, Bill wrote that music and playing the piano provided him the most support during his school-age years when his family moved multiple times due to his father’s parish changes. In high school Bill took weekly lessons at the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music at OberlinCollege.
Mr. Cundiff received his undergraduate degree at OberlinCollege in 1951, supporting himself as the paid organist in the OberlinEvangelicalUnitedBrethrenChurch, and his Master of Music from Oberlin in 1952. Upon graduation Bill was accepted by the Mission Board of the Evangelical and Reformed Church to join an interdenominational group of college graduates to go to Japan for a three-year appointment to teach and assist in the rebuilding of postwar Japan. He was sent to the northern city of Sendai, where he taught piano at MiyagiGakuinCollege for Women. At the end of his three-year term, he was invited by the College to return to the faculty as a regularly appointed missionary/teacher, which he did in 1958 following a year of full-time Japanese language training in Tokyo. In 1964 he became a full professor of the College and a member of its Board of Trustees. He was chosen by the faculty to serve as Director of Religious Activities.
During his teaching career Bill had many opportunities to perform. He recalled in his memoirs that “the highlights have to be my 25th Anniversary Recital in 1977, playing with the Sendai Symphony, opening the Second Piano Festival in Numazu, and my Farewell Concert in October 1994, when I was joined by three of my former students who are now on the faculty—that was a proud moment for me.”
Bill retired and joined the Pilgrim Place community in 1995. He continued to play the piano and perform at Pilgrim Place and at Claremont United Church of Christ, where he was a member. He continued to follow his passion for opera, attending many area performances and traveling to New York to hear his favorite opera stars. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Petterson Museum of International Art in Claremont.
Bill is remembered as friendly, gracious, vibrant, a joy to be with, and always ready to help anyone. His laughter, inspiration, and music will be missed by all. In addition to his many friends, Bill is survived by cousins Melissa Ballard of Oberlin, Ohio; Jay Henry of Carrollton, Ohio; and Sherry Jenkins of Mason, Ohio. Condolences may be sent to friends: Mr. George and Mrs. Ruth Parrott, 555 West 7th Street, Claremont, CA91711, or to his family in care of Ms. Sherry Jenkins,
9898 Snider Road, Mason, Ohio 45040 .
Plans for a memorial gathering to celebrate Bill’s life are pending.
Memorial gifts may be sent to: Pilgrim Place Residents Health and Support Program,
660 Avery Road, Claremont, CA91711 .