Jennifer Christina Shaffer Cunningham, 42, of Grove died on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020, from COVID-19 related complications at INTEGRIS Grove Hospital, Grove.
She was born on April 16, 1978 in Vinita, to Clyde and Karin Shaffer. In November 1978 the family moved to Rohrbach, in Hessen, Germany where they remained until 1991, when they returned to northeast Oklahoma.
She attended Bluejacket Public Schools seventh grade until graduating in 1996. German was her first language and she taught herself English after returning to the states.
A graduate of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami with an associates degree in business administration; Jennifer completed a degree in meetings and destinations in hotel management with a minor in marketing at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah.
While a student at NSU, she met Wes Cunningham in 2001. The pair married July 19, 2003 and have two daughters: Victoria, 17, and Annaliese, 11.
A career in child welfare first in Ottawa, then later Delaware County gave Jennifer a desire to help children on a deeper level; leading her to pursue an alternative Oklahoma teaching license.
She began teaching middle school science in 2013 at Fairland Public Schools; before transferring to teach the same at Will Rogers Middle School in Miami in the fall of 2014.
In fall 2019 a chance to return to her alma mater, Bluejacket, led Jennifer to teach ninth to 12th grade English and yearbook. She was completing a master’s degree in education administration at Western Govenor’s University, having just finished her Praxis test and LEC comprehensive exam.
She strived to make the world a better place for both her students and her daughters. Outside of education, she was involved first as a stage mom, then actress and later board member with The Playmakers Community Theatre in Grove.
Inspired by her grandmother Erika Poeschl’s own writing career, Jennifer often contributed her own poems to Rural Oklahoma Museum of Poetry contests. Her first published work, I Remember, is part of Word Daubers, an anthology published after the 2019 Summer Poetry Challenge.
She was preceded in death by her maternal grandparents, Erika and Alfred Poeschl; paternal grandparents Goldie and Thurman Shaffer Sr.; uncle Carl Shaffer and great uncle Joseph Poeschl.
Survivors include her parents of Bluejacket; her husband Wes and daughters Victoria and Annaliese of Grove; her brother Marc (Joelle), three nephews Parker, Achilles and Elijah, and one niece Sophia, all of Bluejacket; as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
Services will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, family members established a GoFundMe account to help Wes and the girls at https://gofund.me/9c1642d5. Services are under the direction of Worley-Luginbuel Funeral Home, Grove.