Kristine (Lange) Cheatum Remembered

Kristine (Lange) Cheatum ’59 died on June 6, 2010. Kris was a case manager at the Kansas Department of Social Rehabilitation Services for 36 years, and maintained her social work license until the day she died. She had an over 50-year career as a human rights activist and an advocate for a wide range of progressive issues. A Kansas City Star column by Lewis Diuguid noted Kris’s commitment to justice: “Kris Cheatum and her husband, Lynn, spoke out for Muslims’ rights and against the U.S. war in Afghanistan and later against the war in Iraq. They attended nearly every rally, carried signs, edited newsletters, absorbed insults and conducted fundraisers. They wanted the best for America and all of its people, advocating peace as the only answer – not war, scapegoating and discrimination. When individuals use their intellect and goodwill to build up civilization, positive things can happen.... Her hard work for peace helped to slow the massive move to scapegoat Muslims. She kept people from feeling entitled to hurt, hate and discriminate. That pause allowed folks’ brains to engage so they could see the humanity in people of a different faith.” Among survivors are Lynn and their two sons.

Myrne Roe, class of '58, composed this poem in her honor:

Kris Died June 6, 2010

by Myrne Roe


This morning's paper read

Kansas City, Missouri

Mary Kristine Cheatum . . .

A pause to shake off sleep,

a cautious second glance.

Then my eyes stopped

on the Kris in Kristine.


Kris, the tiny girl-woman

with a nasal twang

that set the college drama teacher

into a hell-bent goal to change

that "awful" voice.

The teacher did not know

Kris could not change.

It was not in her nature to conform.

Her life would become a celebration

of civil disobedience.


She would brook no intolerance,

support no war.

Her energy overflowed her frame.

Her compassion sent her with food

into a crime-filled ghetto in the 1960s

so the Black Panthers

could feed hungry children.

Her war against war and nuclear crusades

earned her catcalls and arrests.

Her laugh left her throat

with uncontrollable delight

and her love wrapped others

in an embrace like a soft cotton comforter.

I weep today for the Kris in Kristine.


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