In a tight-knit town like Stephenville, when tragedy strikes, community members rally together in love, support and faith.

On Friday, the life of one family with ties to Stephenville and Erath County was forever changed when the lives of three young children were lost in a home fire.

For years, Dennis and Peggy Cunningham and their children, Christy, Laura, Faith, Emily, Tyler and Rowdy, could be seen around town. The Cunnnighams left about six months ago and moved to Bassett to be closer to family. Bassett lies on Highway 67 about 30 miles west of Texarkana. It was there, at their new home, that tragedy struck early Friday morning.

According to local reports, the Simms Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the family’s home just before 6 a.m. and found the one-story frame home in flames.

Three of the children, Laura Wilkinson, 17; Tyler Joe Robert, 11; and Rowdy Cunningham, 5, died in the fire. Their mother, Peggy, and siblings Faith, 12, and Emily, 8, escaped the inferno. Dennis was working away from the home at the time.

Funeral services for the three children will be held at 2 p.m. today at James Bowie High School in Simms, near the family’s Bassett home. A candlelight vigil was held at the Cunningham home Monday night. Locally, visitation was held at Stephenville Funeral Home Sunday night with a memorial service held at the family’s church home, Graham Street Church of Christ, Monday.

The Cunnigham family is suffering. In addition to losing their children, they have lost their home and all of their possessions. The family had no insurance to help recover the material and financial loss.

Family and friends of the Cunninghams are asking for support. A fund has been established at First Convenience Bank. Donations may be made at any of the bank’s Texas locations to the Laura Wilkinson Fund, New Boston, Texas. An account has also been established at Bank of America in the name of Peggy Cunningham.

Anyone wanting to make material donations can deliver their contributions to the home of Peggy’s parents, Joe and Edwyna Smith, located at 384 S. Graham Street.

You may also coordinate donations of money, food or clothing, by contacting Holly Miller at