Obituary: Winifred (Winnie) Cheever

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Posted at 3:48 PM, May 02, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-02 17:48:33-04

On the evening of April 26, 2024, Winifred (Winnie) Cheever passed peacefully into the arms of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Winnie was born in Missoula, MT on March 26, 1930, and lived most of her childhood on the family ranch in Nine Mile. When the family moved to town in her teens, she worked at the Wilma Movie Theater. She attended college and worked as a dental assistant before starting a family. A decade later she moved with her son and daughter to Bozeman, MT, returning to college and meeting the love of her life, Dr. Donald H. Cheever, at the Student Health Service. He was a single father of two daughters so they decided it would be easier to get married than to hire babysitters. They were soon blessed with another daughter. All their children helped them celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2012.

Winnie was known for her creative talents, and she was able to sketch horses from an early age. She became an expert seamstress, along with making draperies and reupholstering furniture. She taught herself how to antique doors and furniture using hammers, screwdrivers, and sewing tools to dent and scar the wood. She joked about how it helped relieve her stress from raising five children. She also taught herself landscape design, planting a huge rock garden that underscored their mountain view. She even mapped out an irrigation plan long before sprinkler systems were in vogue.

The most important thing to Winnie was her faith in Jesus, and it was her earnest desire to please Him. She became a foster mother to several pregnant teenage girls. She jokingly said that she also wanted her daughters to learn what could happen should they decide to join the free love movement of the sixties. During this period, Don decided to take a summer off to serve as a civilian doctor in Vietnam, leaving her on her own with their five children, a foster daughter, and a backed-up septic tank that needed replacing. But she didn’t complain, knowing her husband wanted to use his medical skills to honor the Lord, and to “do more than wipe college freshmen’s noses”.

Her lifelong dream came true when the rancher across the road sold them ten acres, enough to raise a few horses, starting with a pony and ending with show horses. They said goodbye to that life when the children were grown, spending several seasons in mission fields in Africa and South America. Don worked in clinics while Winnie illustrated Bible storybooks. She loved the warmer climates as well as the relaxed lifestyle reminiscent of ranch life. “We ate when the dinner bell rang,” she said, “not when the clock told us it was time to eat.” After retiring from mission work, they built a new home that she also decorated and landscaped, proving again she could have been a professional in either field.

Winnie was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, her two brothers, and two grandchildren. She is survived by her five children, six grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren. Dan and wife Karen (Peace) live in Beaverton, OR. Dianne and husband Mike Lorang live in Littleton, CO; Kathy and Mars Bonfire live in Reno, NV; Connie lives in Lakewood, CO; and Mary and Gale Heide remain in Bozeman.

Please join the family as we honor Winnie’s life on Saturday, May 4 at 10 am at Grace Bible Church in the Fireside Room.

Those desiring to honor Winnie through memorial gifts may do so through donating to “Spread of Grace,” a ministry to Ethiopians founded by Don and Winnie’s dear friend Misiker Kebede. Donations can be made online at, or by mail at Spread of Grace Ministries, 125 Calvary Church Road, Wrightsville, PA 17368. Donations can also be made as designated gifts through the Global Outreach Ministry of Grace Bible Church in Bozeman.