In Memory

Gary Cheek

Gary Thomas Cheek passed away in the late morning of January 21, 2016 in Brooklyn, New York. Along his side was his loving wife, Sara. He was born November 18, 1942 and was raised in Raleigh. He was the eldest son of Thomas Everett Cheek & Gladys Smith Cheek.

He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas Everett Cheek. He is survived by his wife Sara Cabezas Cheek and her sons, Roberto Edwardo & Mariscio, and by his younger brother, David Wayne Cheek & younger sister June Kyna Cheek.

Gary attended Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, before moving to New York City, his adopted home. After working there for a number of years, he began his travels around the world. He left on a ship with the National Geographic expedition bound for New Guinea. He eventually made his way to Australia where he lived for two years. He then traveled through the Indian Ocean before making his way to England. He later returned to his home in New York.

Gary served in the U.S. Army, enlisting in 1965. He served in South Korea as a Sergeant in the Military Police, until being honorably discharged in 1971.

He later formed his own company and became owner & operator of a Rare Book business. He later worked for a New York import business until his retirement.

He was married to Sara Cabezas, the love of his life, being together for 35 years. He greatly loved being a family man and sharing his time with family. He was also a lover of history and enjoyed following sports, especially ACC basketball.

He was buried on February 25, 2016 with a full Military Honor Guard at Long Island National Cemetery in Farmington, N.Y.

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04/30/16 01:39 PM #24    

Diane Snakenburg (Rodger)

Fred, I love the idea of Bill Hicks playing at the reunion. A ballad for Gary...something like Bad Bad Leroy Brown. Diane 

04/30/16 05:50 PM #25    

Linda Kass

Me too. Bill performing, I mean.




05/02/16 07:55 PM #26    

Ann Bennett (Rogers)

Rick Suberman has asked me to post these memories of Gary for him.


My earliest memories of Gary and Doug go back to late elementary school years.  Gary at age 12 and Doug at about 10. 

Gary and I were on the same Little League team at Jaycee field. He was the shortstop and I pitched and played 3rd.  He was amazing.  He was the only one in the league who hit any home runs that year.  I am not sure how many he hit but it was more than several.  Everything about his game was the best-hit, throw, run, and being a team player.  We had nicknames for each other and our spirits were high. His athletic prowess continued as long as I knew him. He and Doug played on the same basketball team at Daniels (I was on the team as a 3rd stringer.)

As we got into high school, Gary and I remained friends but at a distance.  In retrospect I think of him as our "rebel without a cause."  Our James Dean.  He showed me his knife wound.  Not pretty and obviously not sewn up by a plastic surgeon.  The knife wound location looked like it could have gone into his liver.  Obviously he survived.  I never saw or heard from him after he left for NYC.  He was one of those childhood friends that now seem bigger than life. His story needs to be told at least to us as I think most of us held him in great awe.  At least I have the memories.

05/03/16 12:49 PM #27    

Tim Brannan

OK. Here goes. I've been putting this off because I wasn't feeling too well and some of the things I thought I wanted to say needed to be thought through first so that I didn't just go off on anyone. Basically other than chastizing the likes of Neal Jackson for some of his ill-thought-out comments and urging that he apologize to Gary's wife and family for implying that they somehow were less than truthful with regard to his obit, I want to keep this positive. Mine is a two-part story.

Part 1. Gary, David Johnson, and I were in chorus together at Daniels. We had a major trio role together with the "We Three Kings" Christmas song in Ms. Bennet's Christmas program. The three of us were all ball players and all sang and knew each other that way outside of school. We worked very hard on the program and decided to put me in the middle between these two big guys. I would push my way through them to the front just before we began our routine, for a sort of comic relief. It worked pretty well too, espescially at Hugh Morrison where I knew a lot of people because of the church I went to which was on the Hugh Morrison "side of town." It got some good laughs and comments. We also sang the heck out of the song and Ms. Bennet was very pleased, something she was not very often with us because we were such cut ups.

Part 2. Getting to know Gary during this time made me realize that perhaps Gary should have an opportunity not given to him before to become a part of the more traditionally "in" group at school. He had earned his way as an athlete and as a performer and as a basically good guy. I think Rick's comment about him being sort of like our James Dean might actually be on point. At least like a Fonze. So I talked it up with a bunch of the Jr Hi-Y members to see if they would be willing to vote him in. I even talked to our advisor from the Y, Don Cheek (no relation). We all agreed that it was a deserved opportunity he should be afforded if he wanted it. When he was notified of his induction he was puzzled, confused, and thrilled. I don't think he'd ever had that kind of an "honor" before and it meant a lot to him. He didn't make the cut for the next year's sophomore Hi-Y and soon left Broughton for NYC, so I don't know what happened after that except for what's in the obit. But it does not surprise me that he led a life of some adventure and in the end some sophistication.

All of the attention he is receiving in death makes me wonder, had we treated him with more respect back in the day would he have moved or stayed? Would he have made the next Hi-Y vote in the 1oth grade? Of course we'll never know the answers to such questions, but we do know the answer to the most important question. Did he lead a cool and worthy life? The obvious answer to that, Neal Jackson not withstanding, is an absolute affirmative Molly Bloom YES (the last word in my favorite novel by James Joyce, Ulysses). God speed Gary. May that home run go on forever!

05/04/16 09:20 AM #28    

Jackie (Jacquelyn) Logan

Wow!... I always thought that I was the only one who continued to think about Gary occasionally. He surely made an impression on me and I'm happy to see that he now evokes lots it fond memories from so many of us.Ours was a very large class (and a great one),so hopefully Gary knows how "cool" 😎 he truly was!!


05/05/16 01:59 PM #29    

Robert Hutchins

Although I didn't know Gary Cheek at Broughton (or age has deprived me of the memory), it is heartwarming to know what an impression he made on some of his classmates.  Gary sounds like a guy that I would have liked a lot and gotten along with very well.  It is truly a shame that such a simple thing as a year's separation in age and graduation date create such damnable barriers to association.

Rest in Peace, Gary!


Class of '60

05/06/16 04:50 PM #30    

Margaret (Peggy) Mayer (Davis)

I did not know Gary, but my recollection is from Wiley. He was slap stick funny and reminded me of comedian, Jerry Lewis, at the time.  

05/11/16 10:24 PM #31    

Mark Fountain

Gary Cheek's younger brother, David, has written the following two notes. I had written him a short note last Saturday; he's listed in the NBHS alumni directory.


You may share all of this with Ann Bennett & fellow class mates.  I am glad that Gary is still remembered in Raleigh today.



Surprise to receive your email, but glad you responded.  I remember your name & can place where you lived in the 60's.  Gary was in the rare book business for a while in New York because he became fascinated with old & valuable books.  He never had a shop or retail store front.  He operated via mail order from his apartment.  He saved up his money & attended book auctions in the city or elsewhere.  When he had accumulated a good selection he would print a brochure & mail it to various colleges & universities, a number of them in N.C.  He continued to do this for a number of years.  All of his books have long been sold off I am sure.  It was a passion & hobby he loved, just as I know you have also.


10/04/16 01:00 PM #32    

Mark Fountain

I apologize again for intruding into the 1961 website, but the interest shown in Gary's life in the earlier exchange brings me to comment yet again.

The death of Gary's mother at age 96 was announced from the pulpit Sunday morning, and this morning's News and Observer carries her obituary on page 9A.

Mark Fountain (NBHS, 1962)

10/04/16 01:59 PM #33    

Ann Bennett (Rogers)

No need to apologize, Mark!  We appreciate your input.  Thanks for the information.

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