Described as being devoted to his wife, his three children and the Lord, Robert Cunningham, 32, died Sunday in an dirt bike accident at the Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area in Tracy.
"He was a real solid guy whose life has touched thousands and thousands of people," said Kevin Suess, associate pastor of Vinewood Community Church.
Cunningham, who was known as Bobby in the church, grew up in Lodi and was a long-time member with his wife, Laura, and three children, Justin, 8, Ashley, 6, and Nathan, 4.
On Sunday at 2:50 p.m., Cunningham was riding a Yamaha dirt motorcycle with his daughter, who was riding a mini-dirt bike.
A 16-year-old male was riding an ATV on a trail uphill from Cunningham. When the teen dismounted to assist another rider, his ATV rolled down the steep hill and struck Cunningham, who died at the scene, according to a California Highway Patrol news release.
His daughter was not injured and was immediately taken to her mother at a nearby campsite.
The Cunninghams enjoyed camping and ATV riding off-road, and often took other members of the church with them, Suess said.
"This was a guy who was cautious, safe, not reckless," Suess said. "None of those factors were involved at all. He literally was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Suess found out about the accident shortly after it happened Thursday. One of the first things that came to his mind was Cunningham's personality. While he came off as somewhat serious and gruff, he was fun-loving, kind and generous, Suess said.
Christy Richesin and Heather Moreno both grew up with Cunningham and his wife in youth groups at Vinewood.
Richesin remembers Cunningham as the nice church boy who was always involved with the youth group.
The group went to youth conferences in Colorado and mission trips to Baja, Mexico, where Cunningham helped build a roof one year and a church school classroom the next.
"He definitely had a service heart," Moreno said.
Both remember watching the couple's relationship develop in the youth group. Richesin said she was surprised one day in their high school youth group to see Laura and Bobby holding hands while watching fireworks on the Fourth of July.
"To see them together, you were happy for them, and it was kind of like what you would want in a relationship seeing how close they were. They were best friends," Richesin said.
Cunningham played football for Lodi High School and graduated in 1996. He married Laura in 1998 at Vinewood.
"They didn't date anyone else. It was just each other. First love," Moreno said.
Cunningham enjoyed being outdoors, whether it was dirt bike riding, camping or fly-fishing. While some dads have separate hobbies like golf away from their family, Richesin said Cunningham wanted to spend his free time doing activities with his family.
The last time Richesin saw the Cunningham family was at the Light Parade.
"He was really involved and really at ease being a dad," she said.
While busy raising a family, he also continued volunteering as the youth leader for high school and elementary students at Vinewood Church.
"The one thing that Laura would want Bobby to be remembered for is that he was a man of God," Richesin said. "He wanted to be a servant and help people, especially the youths."
Cunningham was self-employed and installed window coverings, said Suess.
A graveside service will be 11 a.m. April 2 at Lodi Memorial Cemetery, 5750 E. Pine St., followed by a memorial service at 3 p.m. at Vinewood Community Church, 1900 W. Vine St.
Visitation will be 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Cherokee Memorial Funeral Home, 831 Industrial Way.
He is survived by his wife, Laura; children, Justin, Ashley and Nathan; parents, Bob and Sandy Cunningham; brother, Matt Cunningham; sister, Lisa Cunningham, of San Francisco; and grandparents, Bob and Arlene Cunningham, and Bob and Beverley Petterson, of Citrus Heights.