W. Augustus Cheatham, an education official in the administration of
U.S. President Jimmy Carter who went on to become the longest-serving
vice president at Loma Linda University, has died after an eight-year
battle with brain cancer. He was 72.
Cheatham, who was known to
friends as Gus, died peacefully at home in Redlands, California, at 3:40
a.m. on Monday, December 22, 2014, said his brother, Charles L. Cheatham,
former president of the Adventist Church’s Allegheny East Conference.
“Memorial services will be planned and announced,” Cheatham said in a brief e-mail to friends. “Keep us in your prayers.”
Augustus Cheatham was first diagnosed with a brain tumor while working
as vice president for public affairs and marketing at Loma Linda
University Adventist Health Sciences Center, the parent company of the
university and its affiliates. He experienced symptoms that caused him
to seek medical assistance in January 2007.
underwent surgery to remove a small brain tumor and, putting his
Christian faith and marketing skills on display, used the experience to
praise both God and the quality of care at Loma Linda University Medical
“The surgery was a great success and my physicians
expect me to recover fully,” Cheatham said in a statement released
shortly after the surgery. “The prayers on my behalf are evident in the
speedy recovery that has already been my privilege.”
But the tumor returned, and Cheatham retired from the university in September 2007 after a record 22 years in the position.
his illness slowed him down, we kept up our friendship, shared meals
whenever we could, and had many opportunities to talk politics: national
and church,” said Ray Tetz, a longtime friend and president of Mind
Over Media, a strategic communications company in Silver Spring,
“He cared deeply about what is happening in our nation
and always wanted to know the latest in church politics as well,” Tetz
said in a tribute on his Facebook page. “The last time I saw him earlier
in the fall, his capacity for speech was nearly gone, but he still
wanted to talk, and he was still filled with grace and gratitude.”
Wilbert Augustus Cheatham, who was born on February
14, 1942, completed his undergraduate work in 1965 at Columbia Union
College (now Washington Adventist University) in Takoma Park, Maryland,
and went on to receive a master’s degree in social work at Howard
University in Washington D.C.
Cheatham coordinated community
services for public schools in Prince George’s County, Maryland, from
1966 to 1970 before entering 16 years of government service, including
appointments as chief of western operations in the Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare; its deputy assistant secretary; and deputy
director of its Office for Civil Rights—a position for which he was
recommended by Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph
Califano and approved by President Jimmy Carter, according to
biographical information on Loma Linda University’s website.
the oath of office administered by associate Supreme Court Justice
Thurgood Marshall was one of Mr. Cheatham’s most memorable experiences,”
Loma Linda University said in a July 2007 statement announcing that it
was awarding Cheatham with its Distinguished University Service Award.
leaving government service in 1982, Cheatham became principal and
business manager of Adventist-operated Pine Forge Academy in
Pennsylvania for three years. During that time, enrollment increased 170
percent, from 110 to 285 students; a new campus church was constructed;
and funds were raised for a new gymnasium, the academy’s alumni
association said this week.
“Mr. Cheatham held many prestigious
positions and has a long list of accomplishments and awards. Today we
honor the husband, father, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, leader and
man of God, ‘Gus,’ as he was affectionately called by all who knew and
loved him,” said Sonya Sampson, president of the National Pine Forge
Academy Alumni Association.
“We pray for peace and comfort to the family and all those who are touched by this great loss,” she said in a statement.
In 1985, Cheatham joined Loma Linda University and left a lasting impact on its methods of communication.
professional legacy includes an institutional brand identity that
applies to all forms of university communication—print and electronic;
and a notable model of university special-events planning and
execution,” the university said in the 2007 statement.
Cheatham is survived by his wife of 51 years, Ida; three children; and seven grandchildren.
said he would remember Cheatham as an influential mentor who gave him
much-needed advice when he embarked on a career in communications after
working as youth director of the Southern California Conference in 1986.
taught me so much,” Tetz said. “When I started my own company, Gus
called and gave us a project on the first day we opened our doors, and
we worked together on dozens of assignments until his illness forced his
retirement from Loma Linda in 2007.”
He added: “We were honored
to be invited to produce a retrospective video on his life and career,
and it was shown at the banquet marking his retirement.”
One of Cheatham’s favorite recording artists, Wintley Phipps, also sang at Cheatham’s banquet.
loved to hear Wintley Phipps sing, and ‘Lift Every Voice’ was one of
his favorites,” Tetz said. “‘God of our weary years, God of our silent
tears’—the lyrics are more fitting tonight than ever. He rests in
-Andrew McChesney, "W. Augustus Cheatham, former Vice President of Loma Linda University, Dies of Brain Cancer," Adventist News Network, January 5, 2015 (http://news.adventist.org/en/all-news/news/go/2015-01-05/w-augustus-cheatham-former-vice-president-of-loma-linda-university-dies-of-brain-cancer/)