Zelma Marie Cunningham Loter, 73, passed from this life on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. Zelma was the first born child of Obbie Thomas Cunningham and Inous Marie Dillard Cunningham. Zelma was born on January 28, 1945 at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, near Fort Knox, where her father was a U.S. Army instructor. After he was discharged, the family moved back to the family farm near Albany, Texas. She grew up a country girl and as the oldest came to help her father in the fields and pastures more than her mom in the kitchen. Zelma drove the tractor before she was of legal age to drive a car. She attended public schools in Albany, Texas, from first grade through high school. She milked cows early in the mornings before catching the school bus for the twelve mile journey into town for classes. Part of her high school years, she lived in town with her Grandmother Cunningham while working after school in the town drug store until closing. Zelma was the valedictorian of the 1963 Class of Albany High School. She entered McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, in the fall of 1963 pursuing a program in the sciences leading to a BS Degree and a career as a licensed Medical Technologist. However, at McMurry she met a chemistry major in his junior year with whom she would fall in love. In her sophomore year she initially resisted his proposals of love and marriage, because she was determined to finish college and earn her degree. Eventually, after he repeatedly promised that she would be able to finish college, she agreed to marry him. She wed Joe Charles Loter of Wheeler, Texas, on August 28, 1965, at the First Baptist Church in Albany, Texas. It was a union that would last for the next 52 plus years. The newlyweds immediately moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where Joe studied for a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Kansas. At KU Zelma changed her major from medical technology to microbiology. She graduated on time in May of 1967 with a BA in Microbiology. After graduation the significant events in her life in Kansas included the birth of a daughter Laura in November of 1968 and working as a salaried research associate in a biology research lab. In 1970 the couple moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, where Joe began a career as a chemistry professor at the University of Corpus Christi. He continued to teach at the successor institutions that became Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Zelma bore a son in 1972 and twin daughters in 1975. While she never returned to active lab work, she retained a life-long interest in science and education. Zelma was a PTA officer. In the late 70’s she and Joe became youth sponsors at Wesley United Methodist Church. For three summers in the 80’s she was the female youth sponsor who went with groups of youth who volunteered in Kentucky and Virginia in the Appalachian Service Project. Zelma served as church youth sponsor for over twenty years. Zelma loved to travel and visited all 50 states. She was a member of the church choir at Wesley UMC until her death. Zelma was preceded in death by her parents. She is survived by her husband Joe and her siblings Alice Jane Cunningham Scott (Darrell) of Abilene, Texas, Margret Ruth Cunningham Ashley (Mike) of Anna, Texas, Obbie Lee Cunningham (Cindy) of Clyde, Texas. She is also survived by her four children: Dr. Laura Marie Loter Shelton (Billy) of Corpus Christi, Thomas Charles Loter (Stephanie) of Hillsborough, North Carolina, Dr. Elizabeth Anne Loter Slough (Kenny) of Keller, Texas, and Barbara Jo Loter Hand (Brian) of Corpus Christi. She was the proud grandmother of eleven, six boys and five girls, whose ages span 22 to 3 years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Wesley United Methodist Church or the American Cancer Society.
A Memorial Service will be held at Wesley UMC, 3915 Gollihar Rd, in Corpus Christi on Friday, April 6, 2018 at 1:00 PM.