Cheeks celebrate golden milestone

Denise and Jeff Cheek are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a week long trip to Las Vegas. They were married Saturday, 18 July 1958 in Vientiane, Laos.

Due to complicated diplomatic issues, their wedding in Sacred Heart Cathedral was actually their fourth nuptial service in two days. Laos was a French colony when U.S. immigration laws were written. When Laos became independent in 1949, the State Department authorized the kingdom the standard quota of 100 immigration permits, or "green cards."

"Mama was a French citizen at the time," Jeff explained. "If we had a religious ceremony, she would be charged the French quota which would take several weeks. But if we had a Laotian civil ceremony she would be on their quota and get her green card immediately."

They went to a Laotian Chao Moung (district officer) and were married on Friday. Next stop was the French Embassy to sign a marriage contract; another civil ceremony.

Finally, since the newlyweds were leaving on Sunday for Jeff's new duty station, Ambassador J. Graham Parsons performed the third ceremony to legally give Denise her alien immigration card.

Having been married three times on Friday, Jeff left his "wife" to attend a bachelor party that featured a 13-course Chinese dinner for 13 guests and 13 bottles of champagne.

The Cheeks later served in Hawaii, Okinawa, Thailand, California and Spain. Their last assignment was a seven-year tour in Misawa, Japan. Jeff retired in November 1990 after a combined 40 year military/civil service career.

The Cheeks have four children and 11 grandchildren. Dennis is a college professor in Texas; David an electrical engineer in Colorado; and Denise Allison is a bilingual mental health counselor in Oregon. Their youngest son, Douglas, is a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Air Force. Due to Doug's duty assignment, the four children joined their parents for an early celebration at Lake Tahoe in late June.

Many readers of the newspaper will remember Jeff from his weekly "Food History" column which was published for more than 10 years, November 1997-March 2008.

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