Forever memories

Kathryn SwanJ-C Correspondent
Forever memories

Today’s column is about a love story and the remarkable couple behind it — Jack and Barbara Cheves. It is also a story about a dear friend, her impact on her family and our community.

Barbara passed away June 11 following extensive complications from diabetes. The couple celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in February. Jack lovingly referred to Barbara as his ‘young bride’ and noted at the time of our interview they had been married 62 years, 3 months and 18 days.

Barbara’s patriotism and love of flags was well known by family and friends. I can’t help but suspect she developed this attraction as a member of ESA and their long-standing flag projects. Jack noted, “We have flags everywhere — under the bed, in trays, in boxes. Sass (daughter Jaclyn) and I continue to stumble upon them.”

Because of Barbara’s love of flags, the family decided they would create a forever tribute to their beloved wife, mother and grandmother by erecting a flag pole on their hay meadow located approximately 6 miles southwest of Pawhuska. The Cheves purchased the property in 1990 from the Mitchell estate. Jack said he has received numerous comments about the majestic flag. Son Rick noted, “Seeing that flag pole for the first time as I was coming in from the west was like a beacon from a light house alerting me that I was nearing home. It was a good feeling.”

Jack relayed this story about the site. “There used to be a tree where we erected the flag. Dave Parker told me he was 15 years old when he hauled hay in that meadow and had lunch under that big cottonwood tree. I think the tree was planted years ago by Billy Neher’s grandpa. A lot of equipment was worked on under the tree’s shade and a lot of naps taken.

“This is the 44th year since I began bailing that natural bluestem meadow. We arrived for our first bailing in 1969 but Oxley (who leased the property) had already bailed it. So, we started in 1970 and haven’t missed a year since.” (Chuckling), I haven’t really done that much the last two years.”

Jack said the old cottonwood died 4-5 years ago. “Barbara and I had talked about putting a flag pole in place of the tree. It was kinda of a land mark and helped when giving directions. Across the road is another old landmark – the old Snively barn. That’s where Jim Snively used to live. It’s perhaps the most photographed barn in Osage County and was the site for Thad Horn’s wedding.

“When I mentioned the idea to Robbie Bergman, my hail bailer, he jumped on it. Robbie, his wife Ann, my son David and grandson Aaron actually did the majority of the work in building the memorial. For that, I am very grateful. The base of the flag pole is wide enough that it can be used for a bench. ” Eventually Jack plans to spread Barbara’s ashes around the flag pole. Some of her ashes will also be spread in Jersey City, New Jersey, where she was born.

The Cheves moved to Pawhuska in 1969 from Archer City, Texas, along with their four children, Rick, David, Jimmy and Jaclyn. In addition to being a homemaker, Barbara had a 24-year career in medical records at Archer City and Pawhuska hospitals. Following retirement 10 years ago, she accepted a part-time position at the Pawhuska Public Library.

Barbara was a remarkable cook, enjoyed painting, square dancing, sewing, crocheting and playing bridge. She loved traveling, especially cruises, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, and spending time with family and friends. Barbara was also an active member of the Pawhuska First United Methodist Church, ESA, PEO, UMW, Mary-Martha Circle, Red Hat Society and the Pawhuska Hospital Auxiliary. Her memorial service brought laughter and tears as friends and family celebrated a life well lived.

As our interview drew to an end, Jack said, “Barbara and I have never considered ourselves monetary wealthy. But, in terms of family and friends, we are multi-millionaires.”