Alumni Association of The Pontifical North American College

Jesse Cheney


CSG 1943

 Father Jesse C. Cheney, a diocesan priest known for building new churches, died March 1 in Little Rock He was 94.He was born Feb.6, 1916, in Cleveland , Miss., the son of Roy Charles and Myrtle Marsalis Cheney. Father Cheney was baptized Catholic as an infant while staying with a great aunt inNew Orleans. The family later moved to North Little Rock where he attended St.Patrick School. His parents converted to Catholicism before he began school. He attended Catholic High School and upon graduation entered St. John Home Missions Seminary inLittle RockHe was ordained by Bishop John B. Morris Feb. 14, 1943. Before retiring from active ministry in 1982, Father Cheney served in 20 parishes and missions. Truly a “founding father,” he built mission churches in Sheridan,Springdale and Siloam Springs, and a chapel in  Waldron. He also served in Pine Bluff and mission churches in Grady, Altheimer, Bald Knob, Searcy and Malvern. In addition, he taught math, science and languages, including Latin, atCatholicHigh School, served as an auxiliary military chaplain for prisoners of war during World War II, and was chaplain for St. Vincent Infirmary and still found time to study in Rome and earn a pilot’s license. Father Cheney experienced many firsts in his lifetime. He was the first in his immediate family to be baptized Catholic. He was a member of the first freshman class ofCatholicHigh Schoolfor Boys in 1930 and he was the first priest ordained from St. Patrick Church inNorth Little Rock. In 2003 when asked what he is most proud of, he said,“Coming into the Church,” not only himself, but his family as well.“My grandfather became a Catholic when he was 85 years old,” he said. There were no immediate survivors. A vigil service was held March 2 in Morris Hall Chapel atSt. John Center in Little Rock. The Mass of Christian Burial was held March 3 atSt. JohnCenterwith Bishop Anthony B. Taylor as celebrant. Interment was next to his parents inCalvaryCemetery


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