Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SR0243
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Full Text of SR0243  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois Senate are saddened
3to learn of the death of Benjamin J. "Ben" Cheek of Rantoul,
4who passed away on March 9, 2021; and
5    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was born to Bertha (Hunter) and
6Benjamin Cheek in Warrenton, North Carolina on May 8, 1936; he
7joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a fire protection
8specialist and with a helicopter rescue group; he served
9overseas in England and Africa and was stationed at a variety
10of locations throughout the U.S.; he married Emily Harris in
11Washington, D.C. on June 6, 1959 and completed his 20-year Air
12Force career at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul; and
13    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek often held a second job in addition to
14his full-time military service; he was a bouncer at the base
15NCO Club, bagged groceries at the commissary, and worked at
16Eisner's grocery store in Rantoul, serving first in the meat
17department and then the produce department; he became the
18grocery manager and finally the manager of the entire store;
20    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek retired from the Air Force and worked
21as a civil servant, where he was in charge of coordinating many
22training manuals for all of the Armed Forces; he also worked



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1one more part-time stint as a bus driver, this time for Rantoul
2Township High School; and
3    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek spent time as a firefighter; during
4Fire Prevention Week, he would visit his children's schools
5and give them and their classmates rides on his fire truck; and
6    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek served on the Rantoul City Schools
7Board of Education for 17 years; and
8    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was not political, but in 1968, when
9Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the local
10television station in Minot announced it would not carry his
11funeral; he and his wife helped organize a protest and letter
12writing campaign that led the station to reverse that decision
13and honor Dr. King with live coverage of his services; and
14    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek and his wife volunteered as chaperones
15at school dances, and he attended as many of his
16grandchildren's events and activities as possible; he loved
17giving them creative pet names; he was a devoted and
18protective father and grandfather; and
19    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was an active member of Rantoul First
20United Methodist Church for 47 years, where he served in many
21ways; he was on the Board of Trustees, a member of the finance



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1committee, an usher, and the elevator operator; and
2    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was an avid sports fan; he and his wife
3were season ticket holders for the University of Illinois
4basketball team; his favorite baseball team was the New York
5Mets, although he also rooted for the Cubs; he was a devoted
6fan of the Green Bay Packers, but he would support the Chicago
7Bears; his barbecue grilling skills were legendary; and
8    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was affectionate and often showed his
9love in simple ways like preparing Emily's special coffee or
10the special drink they shared, scraping the car windows for
11his daughters after a snowfall, and treating Emily and, years
12after she passed, Harriette Dottery, as the treasures he knew
13they were; he spent the last years of his life doing the things
14he loved with Harriette, enjoying being with family, meeting
15new people, and traveling; and
16    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek was preceded in death by his wife,
17Emily; his parents; and all seven of his siblings; and
18    WHEREAS, Ben Cheek is survived by his companion,
19Harriette; his children, Ramona, Keith (Amy), Sharon (Shonda
20Russell), Monica (Sam) Hall, and Niki (Asa) Pettit; and his
21grandchildren, Quintin, Eric, and Emily Cheek, Jordan and
22Nathan Russell, Samuel IV, Anisa, and Elijah Hall, and Ameea



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1and Kalel Pettit; therefore, be it
3ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we mourn the passing of
4Benjamin J. "Ben" Cheek and extend our sincere condolences to
5his family, friends, and all who knew and loved him; and be it
7    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
8presented to the family of Ben Cheek as an expression of our
9deepest sympathy.