Conley Cheek

Conley always cared for the land and helped neighbors without asking anything in return.

Conley Cheek, who passed away in August 2009, was like a grandfather to all of us in Fleetwood of Ashe County. A decorated war hero, he was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. When he married, his wife had a log cabin built by her great-grandfather. He numbered the logs, took them apart piece by piece and moved them to their property here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

"Back when I was a boy," he said one time, "everyone had a patch of land and raised buckwheat. The Hartzogs owned a gristmill and the '40 flood took it. Over yonder on the South Fork they buried that apple tree in pine-sap, and those timber cutters let trees fall on it. So I went over there with a chainsaw and cut them away so it could grow. In winter the gobblers go off together, and the hens roost in these river chestnuts."

Anne Hart Herrick, Fleetwood, Blue Ridge Electric

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