Elon mourns the death of Ruth Cheek
The retired assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry died Sept. 20.
Retired Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ruth Cheek, who taught chemistry at Elon for 22 years, died Sept. 20 at age 93. She was the wife of the late Paul Cheek, Elon’s Vaughn Professor Emeritus of Chemistry who passed away in May. They were married for 68 years. The family will hold a private graveside service.
Born in October 1923 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Ruth Cheek graduated from the Woman’s College, now University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in 1945 with a degree in chemistry. During one summer break, she worked at a weapons factory in Delaware, performing chemical tests on explosives for shells used in WWII. She was one of the few women in the laboratory at the time.
Cheek went on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry in 1947 from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she met Paul Cheek. They were married the following year and moved to Elon in 1950, after Paul accepted a position at the college. After their four children were older, Ruth joined Elon’s chemistry faculty in 1964, teaching for 22 years. She retired in 1986.
An accomplished pianist, Ruth Cheek accompanied many choral performances throughout her high school and college years. Later she played for her Sunday school class at the Elon Community Church United Church of Christ for decades, and was a member of its Women’s Circle.
Cheek is survived by her children, Graham Cheek, Sheldon Cheek, Janet Cheek Campbell and Mary Rachel Cheek; grandchildren Caroline Campbell, Christopher Campbell and Spencer Wylie Cheek; and several nieces and nephews.