Samuel Forrest Cheesman, DVM, a pillar of the Pine Bluff community, passed away May 30, 2020. He was born September 5, 1932 in Colorado Springs, CO to the late Milton and Hazel Cheesman.
As a young boy growing up on a cattle ranch, Sam was so impressed with the veterinarian who visited their ranch each week that he decided at the age of 12 to pursue a career in animal medicine. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK in 1958. He met the love of his life, Phyllis Wright, on a blind date while at OSU. They married in her hometown of Oklahoma City and moved to Pine Bluff, AR that year. He and David Breshears, DVM started Oak Park Animal Hospital in 1961 which resulted in being the longest veterinary partnership in the state – 48 years.
Sam was very active with the Arkansas Veterinary Medical Association and was a past Arkansas Veterinarian of the Year and past President of the AVMA. He retired in 2015 at the age of 82.
Sam and David’s practice included both large and small animals. Both vets became very involved in horse racing and owned around 20 thoroughbred horses in partnership with other veterinarians, doctors, and dentists. Two of those turned out to be stakes winners: Doctors Enjoy Dollars and Bold Kabota.
Horse racing at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, AR necessitated a need for lodging. Sam and Phyllis bought a condominium in Hot Springs. The mountain view from Twin Points reminded him of Colorado Springs. Sam was very involved with the Twin Points community, serving as a Board member for many years and planting beautiful flowers around his condo when not at Oaklawn.
Sam was often found at the Bridge Table. Sam took up bridge while at college at OSU. As a member of Farmhouse Fraternity, there was always a perpetual bridge game to be found. Sam took bridge seriously, even though he claimed it was his way to ease the pressures & relax. Sam achieved a Sapphire Life Master ranking which requires 3,500 points -not an easy feat. Ask any “bridgie”, the name his children fondly refer to as his bridge buddies. One of Sam’s many nicknames was the Czar of Bridge. He served as Past President of the Pine Bluff Duplicate Bridge Club & as Past President of the Arkansas Bridge Association.
Never one to participate in sports, Sam was surprisingly, an avid sports fan. If at all possible, he never missed an Arkansas Razorback or OSU Cowboy game and held season tickets for years. He recorded them if he had other plans. He was fond of watching any college sport along with the Wheel of Fortune and the Golden Girls.
Sam’s many nicknames included Pop Cheeto, Bud, Buddy, PawPaw, and the most common, Dr. Sam. However, he was proudest of being PawPaw and he loved nothing more than spending time with his children and grandchildren in Hot Springs. He made every graduation & even the first wedding this past fall.
Sam loved to travel & see new places. Spain, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Hawaii, China, and the Caribbean were some of his favorite trips. The most memorable was a trip to Israel with his daughter Bea and grandson Will.
Sam loved his church, Grace Episcopal Church. He served as a lay reader, Eucharistic minister and Vestry member. He especially loved the Wednesday Healing Service at noon and the lunch afterwards. He looked forward to the annual Men’s Pancake supper held jointly with Trinity Episcopal Church, and spearheaded the Thanksgiving Lunch each year. He always prepared at least a dozen bags of Dr. Sam’s spicy crackers for the English Tea each spring. and they were always one of the first items to sell out!
Dr. Sam lived an amazing, Christian life, full of love, respect, peace and compassion for every human being and four-legged creature. Trumpets were sounding in Heaven on Saturday morning as he reunited with his wife Phyllis and son, Allen.
Sam was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis Cheesman; his son, Allen Cheesman; a sister, Deanie Lyda; a nephew, Tim Lyda; and brother-in-law, Derrill Howell.
He is survived by his daughters Bea and Cara (Jeff); his daughter-in-law, Susan; sister, Rose Howell; brother, Bob Cheesman; brother-in-law, Ben Wright; grandsons Robert (Kem), Will, Braden (Lydia), Sam; granddaughters, Michelle (Zach), Melanie (Evan); many cousins, nieces & nephews; grandpups, Ally, Marley, Wayne, and Maggie; and grandkitties, Nicky, Tigger, and Ms. Kitty.
The family would like to thank his wonderful caretakers, Brenitta & Andrew Flowers, Beatrice Goodloe, Phyllis Carter, and Pam O’Brien. They made his last few years much more enjoyable and are all now part of the extended Cheesman family.
There will be a private family service on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. Please visit www.FullerFunerals.com to view the service via webcast at 10:00 a.m. Arrangements are by Fuller Hale-South Funeral Services.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to Grace Episcopal Church, 4101 S. Hazel Street, Pine Bluff, AR 71603; or the Jefferson County Humane Society, P.O. Box 2233; Pine Bluff, AR 71613.