Ex-Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick’s grandfather dies at 98

The Detroit News

Funeral services are this weekend for the patriarch of one of Detroit’s powerful political clans, Marvell Cheeks Jr.

Mr. Cheeks, the father of former U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick and grandfather of ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, died Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. He was 98.

The Navy veteran and longtime Ford Motor Co. worker had lived in Metro Detroit since relocating there with his family from South Carolina as a youth.

Mr. Cheeks ran track at Northwestern High School, where he dated Willa Mae Henry. They married on Aug. 6, 1941, and had five children.

Henry later died. And Mr. Cheeks became active at Detroit’s Shrine of the Black Madonna and took on the African name Ifuma Chui, relatives said.

That’s where his daughter and son-in-law at the time, Bernard Kilpatrick, also were involved. The church came to prominence by helping to secure Coleman Young’s 1973 upset mayoral victory and formed the Black Slate, a political action committee, according to Detroit News archives.

Mr. Cheeks wed a fellow church member, Joan Robinson, on June 26, 1983. They fused their families, which included 13 children, 70 grandchildren, 56 great grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

While his daughter and grandson were in politics, Mr. Cheeks appeared at some of their events to show support.

“He was the patriarch of the family — very supportive, very well-respected in the community,” said Adolph Mongo, a political consultant in the city.

Cheeks Kilpatrick became a U.S. representative in 1997 but lost her seat after a 2010 primary challenge. She also chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2006-08.

Her son Kwame Kilpatrick resigned from office in disgrace amid scandal. He was convicted in federal court of running a criminal enterprise out of city Hall and is serving a 28-year public corruption sentence in Oklahoma.

For fun, Mr. Cheeks enjoyed cooking, bid whist, and gathering with relatives for reunions, his family said.

Besides his wife and daughter, other survivors include children Madelyn, Raymond, Marvel and Marsha, Dierdre, Tadara, Martinis, Terrence and Anita.

He was predeceased by siblings Odessa, Maggie, Willie, Henry, Clifford, George and Leroy as well as three children, Morris Robinson, Duane Robinson, and Anneice Robinson.

Services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Shrine of the Black Madonna, 7625 Linwood, Detroit.