As a tribute to a neighborhood “superhero” who passed away on August 20, Rose City Park neighbor Brian Bendis, a Marvel comic book writer and artist, dedicated his most recent edition of The Invincible Iron Man to Richard “Dick” Cheek, the Bendis family’s across-the-street neighbor for the past seven years.
Cheek, 84, died in the Rose City Park home he shared for 60 years with his wife Helen, leaving eight children, nine grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and a multitude of neighbors, friends and acquaintances whose lives he touched with his kindness and generosity of spirit. A longtime and active parishioner at St. Rose church, Cheek will be remembered by the generations of young men and women he coached in Catholic Youth Organization programs and by the immigrant families he welcomed to our community and helped to make new homes.
“Dick and Helen and their eight adult children are just amazing people,” said Bendis. “Great positive energy everywhere they go. Big on community. Big on helping out anyone who needs a little help. Be it through church, community organizing or just looking out for one another. Almost to an unbelievable degree.”
In Bendis’ Iron Man story, the hero performs a number of good deeds that he doesn’t tell anyone about. One thing he does is go to hospitals in the middle of the night, when he can’t sleep, and hold newborn infants.
“My dad did that for many years at Emanuel Hospital,” said Dick’s son Jim. “We didn’t know about it until just a few weeks before he passed. I mentioned it to Brian and he was inspired. At the end of the issue, Brian included a long and beautiful essay about my father. It’s such a wonderful and cool tribute to Dad.”
“Who does that and doesn’t tell anybody?” said Bendis. “The most unbelievable concept in this issue was based on true Dick Cheek. Jim told me about it while I was thinking about what the coolest thing could be that Tony Stark would do and no one would know. I really wrote that question down for this issue. Then Dick’s son comes over and drops this on me.”
“The world has been a hot mess lately,” said Bendis. “One of my personal ways of dealing with the stress is knowing that there are people in the world like the Cheeks. They are people who do kindnesses because that’s what you’re supposed to do. If you find someone that needs a little kindness, maybe stop and do it. Do that. Be an honest-to-goodness real superhero like Dick Cheek. A kindness is all it takes.”
On sale now at comic book shops throughout the city, “The Invincible Iron Man” is available worldwide in several languages. For more information, visit www.marvel.com.