|Walter Cunningham came to South Dakota from Missouri. His first job was to drive a coal wagon from Lead to all the surrounding communities. Later, he worked as a farm hand in Lawrence, CO. Eventually he had his own ranch in Butte, CO, called the Redwater Ranch. He was a leader in irrigation, sheep ranching and farming. Later Walter moved to a ranch about 30 miles north of Belle Fourche, where he ran a large band of sheep. He was a producer of high quality sheep, lambs, and wool. He was a pioneer in upgrading and promotion of the sheep industry in the western area.
Walter was vice president of the First State Bank of Newcastle, WY. In 1938 and in 1943 he was elected president, a position which he held until 1952 when the bank was sold. <p>Above his success in the farming and ranching business, Walter was also a successful community servant. He served on the Antelope School District #15, Butte County, School Board from 1928 to 1940. He served as County Commissioner of Butte County from 1927 to 1934, during the trying years of drought and depression that effected all of South Dakota. Walter was a conservative yet progressive thinker and served the county well. From 1946 to 1956, he served as a Council Member for the city of Belle Fourche and played an integral part in the development of the City of Belle Fourche. During his tenure on the Council he was instrumental in laying the sewer system, paving of the main part of the city, and the founding of the municipal airport. He was appointed Park Supervisor and developed the park into a showpiece for the Belle Fourche community. <p>Walter's generosity stretched far beyond his community service. His financial assistance supported several worthy causes and organizations throughout the years. He personally helped finance and promote the Boy Scouts, Black Hills Area Council of Girl Scouts, and was a leader in the development of fine health care in the Belle Fourche community through his financial support of the John Burns Memorial Hospital, Lookout Memorial Hospital, Spearfish and the North Central Nursing & Retirement Homes, Spearfish. <p>Walter's support, dedication and financial assistance to his community and western South Dakota has made this region a better place to live, work and raise a family. Walter Cunningham was one of the best known ranch operators in the North Western area of Butte County. More importantly, he was a visionary and leader in western South Dakota
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