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John Cheek

1935 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
John Cheek Obituary
Cheek, John U.

John U. Cheek, age 81, passed away Nov. 4, 2016 at home after a battle with cancer. Born in Atlanta, Ga. May 21, 1935 he has been a resident of New Mexico since 1971. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Jean Cheek, by his son Kevin and wife Pamela, and grandchildren Philip, William, and Linnea.

John attended both Harvard University and Emory University, and was a veteran of the US Navy, where he served as a medical corpsman on the USS Forrestal. At Emory in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he was a participant in the civil rights movement, working in the Southern Christian Leadership Council directly with Dr. Martin Luther King and with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee with Julian Bond. He combined these with a love of classical music to work as sound-equipment manager for Coretta Scott King's concerts in the Atlanta area.

He was a general contractor in Santa Fe who loved traditional adobe architecture and always welcomed the challenge of bringing an old or partially ancient building up to date (though he often claimed his "X-ray vision was failing"). Many buildings around Santa Fe will attest to his attention to detail and his personal vision of Spanish Colonial and Pueblo architecture for decades or centuries to come, from the flagstone patio in Sena Plaza to many of the houses in the Llano Compound.

A lifelong lover of classical music, John was a member of the first sitting board of the Santa Fe Symphony and later served as a founding member of the Santa Fe Symphony Foundation Board.

He will also be remembered as a track coach and member of the Santa Fe Prep community.

John and Jean loved to travel, exploring the culture and music of Europe. Together, they made a lifelong pursuit of learning and literature, often taking classes from St. John's College on subjects like Faulkner and Shakespeare. They have been members of the Mary Sidney Society and participated in regular readings of Shakespeare's plays in Santa Fe until weeks before his death.

There will be celebration of his life, date and place to be determined. Memorial contributions can be made to the Santa Fe Symphony

(santafesymphony.org) or to the Mary Sidney Society

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Nov. 20, 2016
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