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Published: Wednesday, 5/29/2013

Carroll Wright Cheek, 1921-2013: WWII veteran had successful finance career

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Carroll Wright Cheek, an Army Air Corps veteran of World War II, who helped found a local banking company and who owned and ran several local grocery store chains, died Monday in Clearwater, Fla. He was 92.

He suffered from heart disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease, and died from a combination of those three ailments, said his son, Michael Cheek.

Mr. Cheek received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1950. In the same year, he helped found the Bowling Green Banking Company.

While a part-time business administration instructor at Bowling Green State University from 1949-1951, Mr. Cheek finished requirements to be a certified public accountant.

After earning his CPA, he opened several accounting offices in northwestern Ohio.

He was senior partner for Cheek and Company, an accounting firm, and also worked in a partnership with Philip D. Kaser, the firm was called Cheek and Kaser, starting in 1957.

Michael Cheek said his father’s interest in finance was started by humble beginnings.

“He grew up very poor and he was the son of a minister. As you can imagine during the Great Depression, there wasn’t very much food on the table. He, at age 12, was making more money doing odd jobs than my grandfather was bringing in from the church,” he said.

From age 13 to 19, Mr. Cheek worked at a park in southern Ohio.

“During the course of that, he met a man who was an industrialist. [He] took him under his wing and guided him through the business world,” Michael Cheek said.

It was after that point that Mr. Cheek felt accounting “was really the way to go,” his son said.

In 1962, he started a supermarket chain and owned several grocery stores in Ohio and Florida — Great Scot, Sac N’ Save, and Food World.

After serving two terms as president on the Bowling Green State University alumni association board of trustees, Mr. Cheek received the Bowling Green State University alumni association’s distinguished alumnus award in 1974.

But it was his father’s aptitude for accounting work that continued to propel his successful career in finance.

“He found that he had a high ability in mathematics,” Michael Cheek said.

When it came to recreation time for Mr. Cheek, there wasn’t a lot.

“He had no hobbies. He was a constant businessman,” his son said.

But Mr. Cheek did make time to volunteer for many charitable boards and organizations.

“He was on various boards of incredible organizations. He got to [do] the books of various organizations [and] asked a lot of uncomfortable questions, but also helped them benefit from some really sage, practical advice.

“He kind of carried his business acumen into the charitable work,” his son said.

His philanthropic work also led to the establishment of the Susan Cheek Needler Breast Cancer Center and the Cheek Powell Heart and Vascular Center at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Fla.

“He had a passion for health-care and a passion for education,” his daughter, Dr. Kathleen Cheek-Milby said of her father’s philanthropic work. “With respect to education, I think he always thought everyone should have an equal chance.”

Mr. Cheek was born on March 21, 1921, in Columbus. He married his wife, Mabel, on Mar. 21, 1942.

Michael Cheek said his parents met at Bowling Green State University.

“They met on a double date. My mom had a date with my dad’s friend. He ended up calling her. I think it was just mutual attraction,” he said.

In 2006 Mr. Cheek and his wife were named Mr. and Mrs. Clearwater by the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Cheek fought in World War II, flying in 33 combat missions as a pilot with the 392nd bomb group out of Wendling, England.

During his time in the service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice and received the Air Medal five times.

Carroll Wright Cheek is survived by his wife, Mabel Cheek; son Michael Cheek; daughter Dr. Kathleen Cheek-Milby; six grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m. today at the Moss Feaster Funeral Home in Largo, Fla.

Funeral services will be held on Thursday at 11 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Clearwater, Fla.

The family suggesed memorial contributions be sent to Suncoast Hospice, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, Fla. 33760.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com, 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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