Ronald Garfield Cheek of Dresher, PA, passed away on Thursday, January 21, 2021 at the age of 86. He was born in Abington, PA on February 13th,1934 to Olivia Valloria Gassaway of Baltimore and John Henry Cheek of Philadelphia.
Fiercely independent, Ronald insisted on riding his mower to cut his own lawn, doing his own appliance repairs, and, despite some muscle weakness from a stroke some years ago, driving himself to get his own groceries and breakfast each morning. He could often be found enjoying classic tunes on his front porch on a warm afternoon.
Ronald appreciated the value of a dollar, learning entrepreneurship early-on selling freshly-caught fish beside his father.
Working as a machinist, landscaper, then contractor, he was able to purchase his first home at 19 years old. Walking four miles daily to a superior grammar school across town, he learned the value of a good education, and went on to found the Cheek Children’s Center in Germantown, Philadelphia. It was the first early education center of its kind, addressing an underserved community and producing generations of academically-accomplished graduates.
Ronald was a charming man, who bonded with the waitress at the local diner, or the agent bagging his groceries at the market. He met and married Dominga De Jesus in 1953, and had sons Ronaldo, Carlos, and Anthony. Later, he married Shirley Klein, and had a daughter, Rhonda. Together they opened the pre-school. He was married to Charlene Barbour of Philadelphia in 1993.
Savvy in real estate, he established a number of rental properties in the Greater Philadelphia area. He was generous with his resources, and ensured access to tenants who could not afford inflated rents elsewhere.
In addition to his legacy as an educator, benefactor, and mentor, Ronald leaves behind his adult children, grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. He will be interred at Whitemarsh Cemetery in Ambler, PA.
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