Service: 10 a.m. Monday, July 8, at Roller-Burns Funeral Home in Yellville, with interment at Georges Creek Cemetery near Yellville; Visitation: 3-5 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at the funeral home.
Oletha Cheek was born on Dec. 7, 1925, in the Snow, area, to Deroose and Hester (Dodd) Cheek.
Oletha’s family farmed their land, raising many vegetables but tomatoes were a staple that she spoke about quite often. She also spoke of her father taking a wagon load of wheat to the mill at Pyatt to be ground.
About the age of 4 her parents decided to move to Oklahoma and try making a life for their family there. Traveling by covered wagon the trip took about a week, as best that Oletha could remember. After approximately 18 months they decided to move back. An uncle, who had a truck, helped them move back. As they were coming through the hills around Eureka Springs there was an accident, the truck went over the side of a hill. Oletha, and her brothers and sisters, along with the wood cook stove were in the back of the truck. Everyone was fine and after several hours they were able to get the truck back on the road.
Oletha attended school at Snow/Pyatt until the eighth grade at which time she had to assist the family. She often spoke of days at the school and the fun they had, as children do, but it was drastically different from today’s “fun” that children have.
Oletha married Oval King on Sept. 5, 1941, about 20 miles north of Yellville, at the home of Deroose and Hester Cheek. The ceremony was performed by Neal Dodd (Oletha’s uncle). Oletha and Oval had a son, Rethel, in June 1942.
Oletha’s family moved several times; they lived in the Kansas City area where Oletha worked at a department store and for Sunshine Biscuit Company. They lived in the Parson, Kansas, area for a short time, and they also lived in the Forsyth area of Missouri, as brush was being cleared for Bull Shoals Lake, They lived in eastern Arkansas where they picked cotton in order to make a living. They moved back to the Peel area and lived there and in the Pyatt area before settling where they made a home in the Welcome Ridge area. Oletha had another son, Gene, on Aug. 16, 1967.
Oletha worked for Capital Mercury Shirt Corp at the Mar-Bax facility in Gassville, for 19 years where she supervised several departments but the main one was “side seam.” She then worked for LaBarge Electornics for 12 years where she retired from, as a “In Process Quality Control Inspector.” After a year, or so, of retirement she returned to work for White River Industries as a sewing machine operator she retired again after five years. She often said, even two years ago, that if she was able to work she would be working again because she missed the people.
Oletha was a constant gardener and canner, which came from a place of necessity. While growing up most of the food consumed was produced on the farm and Oletha had it instilled to use everything that she possibly could of the items from the garden and from animals. Oletha continued to can into her late 80s. Oletha was encouraged to enter her canned goods in the fair, which she did and excelled at. When the extension office announced that there would be a “high point” winner for the home economics area Olethat did not think anything of it. The first year of the High Point winner started Oletha won, she went on to win nine of the first 10 years the award was available.
Part of what Oletha did to win was her canned goods but it was also her baked goods and her sewing ability. Again born of necessity, when younger, Oletha made several quilts to stay warm during the cold winters. She went on to make enter quilts in the fair and to sell them later on. We would not consider trying to calculate the miles of fabric and thread that she has used. Oletha was surprised that people would pay for her quilts. She gave quilts to her family members for Christmas several years, her sons, plus grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was to the point that when everyone saw the big bags they knew there was a quilt for them. I would venture to say that she gave away 30-40 quilts over the years and sold 20-30. One thing that made her quits so special was that many were sewing and quilted on her fingers, it was later on that because of arthritis she had to use a sewing machine.
Oletha was a member of Welcome Ridge Community Church, which her parents helped start the church. Oletha was baptized on Sept. 23, 2001, by Kevin Rogers, in the Pot Shoals area of Bull Shoals Lake. She often said that she enjoyed church but would not mind if, instead of preaching, they spent the entire time singing hymns. She also was active in the Red Hat society, and she was a charter member of Pine Mountain Fire Department in which she made sausage gravy for the annual Pancake Breakfast. She did this for many years until her health would not allow her. She would find a way to help with the fire department functions, after her health failed she would still work the door, taking money and giving a conversation. She would make sure, if she did not recognize the face, to find out if the person was new to the community and if so start telling the person about everything coming up. She tried to make strangers feel welcome and comfortable. She would rally people, if someone needed help, to aid the people that needed it from food for a funeral situation or demolition of a building.
Oletha had three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, all of whom she loved very much. It was not unusual to find her under a quilt with two or three kids watching cartoons while babysitting.
Oletha saw many things in her life: travel in a covered wagon, automobile, and in her 70s traveling by jet airplane. She saw the telephone, party lines, and cell phone (which she was adept at using).
Oletha passed at home on Thursday, July 4 (2019).
Oletha was preceded in death by her mother and father, two sisters, two brothers, and her husband, Oval King.
She is survived by two sons, Rethel (Charlotte) King, of Harrison, and Gene King, of Yellville; three grandchildren, Sherry (Greg) Parks, James (Lori) Reed, and Amy McBee; and six great-grandchildren, Evan Billings, Adam Billings, Brady Billings, Sarah Parks, Jim Reed, and Jordan Reed.
Visitation will be 3-5 p.m. Sunday, July 7, at Roller-Burns Funeral Home in Yellville.
Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 8, at Roller-Burns Funeral Home Chapel in Yellville, with Brother Howard Gene Saylors officiating.
Interment will follow at Georges Creek Cemetery near Yellville.
Pallbearers will be Tommy Cheek, Corey Parks, James Reed, Mike King, Evan Billings, Adam Billings, Brady Billings and Jim Reed.
Honorary pallbearers will be Raymond King, Don King and Dr. Tom Leslie.
Memorials may be made to Georges Creek Cemetery, c/o Nancy Bergeron, 2261 MC 4005, Yellville, AR 72687.
For online condolences, visit rollefuneralhomes.com/yellville .