AFTON — Rosemary Cheek of Afton, 87, exemplifies that one is never too old to make a difference.
Cheek, a retired school teacher, taught back and forth at Cleora Public Schools and Afton Public Schools for approximately 31 years. She was inspired to teach after seeing her mother and sister become teachers.
“I taught Commercial and Home Economics to high schoolers at Cleora,” Cheek said. “Afton Elementary needed a first grade teacher. They got to looking and asked me.”
Since Cheek had only taught high school students, she was apprehensive to teach first grade.
“I tried it and I was nervous at first,” Cheek said. “I had 32 first graders that first year. The room was full, but I enjoyed the first grade once I got down there.”
Even though she taught several years ago, Cheek remembers her students and vice versa.
“I had one little girl who would come in and get in my lap,” Cheek said. “I wouldn’t let the rest of them get in my lap. She’s teaching up at Afton, now, and every time she sees me, she goes ‘There’s my teacher!’”
Jordan Boyd, director of the Dobson Museum in Miami, has known Cheek his entire life.
“I've known her a long time, and she is quite a lady,” Boyd said. “She's always been a close friend of the family and feels like family to me. She emulates the same morals and way of life that my parents raised me to be. She has been a long time community member and volunteer and is always there to help others. It's a great quality about growing up in a community like Afton. When you live and grow up in Afton, everyone feels like family.”
Cheek may be retired from the school system, but she always stays busy, spending a majority of her time volunteering around the Afton community.
She serves as president of the Afton Senior Citizens Organization (TASCO) and has been for over eight years.
“When they organized the Senior Citizen Center here, they couldn’t find anyone to be on the board,” Cheek said. “I’m the president at the center and have been since 2007. I enjoy it, but I’ve been here for so long.”
At the Afton Senior Center, Cheek prepares meals for its homebound program, a delivery service that transports meals to the homes of elderly individuals who have disabilities or no means of transportation.
“I volunteer and deliver meals to senior citizens on Wednesdays,” Cheek said. “I enjoy doing it and talking to them. I used to sit down and visit with them. I deliver eight meals around the community. We had more, but a lot of them have passed away.”
Cheek said she tries to inspire people who come into the senior center.
“I enjoy all of the people who come in,” Cheek said. “We miss them when they’re not here. I start calling to see if they’re okay.”
Cheek said she hopes to retire as president of TASCO on Dec. 31, but will continue to volunteer around the community.
When she’s not volunteering at the senior center, Cheek also volunteers at her church.
“I’m chairman at the funeral committee of my church,” Cheeks said. “I also help with dinners and cook on Wednesday night for Afton school students. All grades come to our church on Wednesday night. They play games, have a lesson from the Bible and eat.”
In her spare time, Cheek likes to garden and make crafts. The Senior Center is decorated with miniature Christmas trees and lights she made by hand.
In April 2012, Afton trustees honored Cheek for her volunteering efforts. Cheek was the recipient of the Joe Hinton Memorial Award for outstanding senior volunteerism in the community from Grand Gateway.
“It seems like I have been volunteering all of my life,” Cheek said laughing.