DAVIDSON, NORTH CAROLINA
February 26, 1937 - February 7, 2020
Donald Michael Cheek was born February 26, 1937 in Mooresville, NC, the child of Marshall Luther Cheek and Eva Mae Bentley Cheek of Kannapolis, NC. A 1954 graduate of A. L. Brown HS, he proudly served in the US Coast Guard from 1955-1959 and in the active reserves 1959-1963. He was an aviation electronicsman, Petty Officer 2nd class, assigned to the USS General Greene. Don received a Coast Guard Service Medal for three consecutive years of faithful and honorable service. At UNC, he earned a B.A. in Urban Geography and a Masters in City & Regional Planning and also met his future wife, Sarah Brawley.
Donald served as Assistant City Planner in Durham, NC and later was City Planner in Fayetteville, NC. In development, he planned over 120,000 acres in Southeastern US, the Bahamas, and South America. As Vice-President for Planning and Research for Conway Research in Atlanta, he designed Airport Industrial Parks. For Reynolds, Smith, and Hills Architectural and Engineering Firm in Florida, he established a planning division and designed Major Center on the interstate south of Disney World, for which he received the Merit Award for Community Planning from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Award of Excellence for Land Planning from the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
In Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl., he planned Sawgrass and directed the first phases of development for that 1150-acre residential-recreational community. From his home in Davidson, Don designed River Run and directed the first two phases of development for that community, of which he remains a Charter Member. The project he treasured most was Orchard Mountain in Low Gap, NC, which he developed with James R. Stockton, Jr. He and Sarah had a home there while their family was growing up. Near the end of his career, Donald also became a Wetland Delineation/Mitigation consultant.
In retirement, Donald discovered clay and savored the times he spent at Penland, NC with teacher Robert Turner. Don received honors in national competitions in New York, Alabama, and Texas. He was an affiliate artist at the McCall Center and had exhibits at the Charlotte Airport, Spirit Square, and numerous cities throughout Piedmont, NC.
Donald Cheek loved the woods his entire life. He said, “Looking at the woods cleanses my soul,” and his clay work was laced with treasures that he found on his walks. That his work in clay would enable him to connect with people the way that it did was an unexpected bonus.
Donald was predeceased by his parents and grandparents, his daughter-in-law Anja Cheek, and special friend David Newberry. He is survived by his loving wife Sarah; brother Maxie Cheek; his children Marianne Cheek Knapp and Michael Brent (Rhonda) Cheek, and son-in-law Bruce Knapp; grandchildren Marshall Cheek, Olivia (Kurt) Floto, and Lake Mills Knapp; step-grandchildren, Bruce Jr. (Heather) Knapp and Alex (Lucas) Knapp Underwood, Amanda (Barett) Veit, Madison (J.C.) Phillips, and Mason Lennon; and step-great-grandchild Easton Phillips. Other survivors are Everette Dellinger (brother-in-law) and nephews Andrew (Heather) Dellinger and Mitchell (Crystal) Cheek and a niece Amy (Mike) Miller; in addition to cousins, friends in Davidson, Amity Hill, and Ponte Vedra, Florida, especially Jimmy Stockton, his soul brother.
Don’s memorial service will be at Bethesda Presbyterian Church, 802 Bethesda Road, Statesville, NC Saturday, February 22 at 11am with Rev. Eric Faust officiating. Any memorials may be sent to Bethesda, any environmental organization, or a preferred charity.
The Cheek Family have entrusted arrangements to Boston's Mortuary.
To send flowers to Donald's family, please visit our floral section.