Joel Owsley Cheek

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Joel Owsley Cheek
BornDecember 8, 1852
DiedDecember 14, 1935
Residence209 Louise Avenue, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Alma materTransylvania University
OccupationBusinessman, philanthropist
Spouse(s)Minnie Ritchey
Children11

Joel Owsley Cheek (December 8, 1852 - December 14, 1935) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was the founder of the Maxwell House coffee brand.

Early life[edit]

Cheek was born on December 8, 1852 in Burkesville, Kentucky.[1][2] He attended Transylvania University in 1868.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Cheek began his career as a schoolteacher for two years.[1][2] He subsequently became a peripatetic salesman for the Webb Wholesale Grocery Company Tennessee and Kentucky.[1] Cheek invested in the company, and it became known as Cheek, Webb & Co..[1]

With investors L. T. Webb, J. J. Norton and J. W. Neal, Cheek opened a coffee shop in Downtown Nashville in 1901.[1] They persuaded the owners of the Maxwell House Hotel to serve their coffee, and they use the name of the hotel as their coffee brand.[1] They began using the slogan "good to the last drop" in 1917.[1] In 1928, Cheek sold the brand to Postum Co. for $42 million; it was subsequently purchased by General Foods.[1] However, he was featured in Maxwell House advertisements until his death.[1]

Philanthropy[edit]

Cheek "gave away much of his fortune to educational institutions, civic improvement campaigns, recognized charities and other worthy causes."[3]

Personal life, death and legacy[edit]

Cheek married Minnie Ritchey in 1873.[1][2] He had eleven children.[4] He resided in Nashville, Tennessee: first at 513 Woodland Street in East Nashville and later 209 Louise Avenue near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University.[4] His cousins were the owners of Cheekwood, which later became a museum.[1] Cheek was a Christian, and "a strong advocate of prohibition.[3] He never smoked or drank.[3]

Cheek died on December 14, 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida.[4] His portrait hangs in the Cumberland County Library.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Walter, Jeff (July 22, 2003). "Maxwell House-Cheekwood saga began with young teacher in debt". The Tennessean. p. 48 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  2. ^ a b c d Crawford, Byron (February 15, 1985). "Coffee ended grind for traveling salesman". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, Kentucky. p. 3. Retrieved May 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  3. ^ a b c "Joel Cheek, 83, Coffee King, Is Called By Death". The Leaf-Chronicle. Clarksville, Tennessee. December 14, 1935. p. 1 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  4. ^ a b c "Coffee Merchant Dies". The Cincinnati Inquirer. Cincinnati, Ohio. December 15, 1935. p. 12. Retrieved May 10, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. (Registration required (help)).
  5. ^ Waggener, Ed (October 28, 2016). "He's Everywhere in Cumberland County, KY: Joel Owsley Cheek . ." Columbia Magazine. Retrieved May 10, 2018.