In Memoriam

Paul Farwell Keene Jr. (1920-2009)

Paul Keene, a noted artist and educator, has died from natural causes at his home in Warrington, Pennsylvania. He was 89 years old.

Keene was a native of Philadelphia and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. After serving as a Tuskegee Airman in World War II, Keene used the GI Bill to study at the Academie Julian in Paris. There he founded a gallery where American artists could show their work.

After spending two years teaching at the Centre D’Art in Haiti, Keene returned to the United States in 1954 to join the faculty at the Philadelphia College of Art. In 1968 he was appointed professor of art at Bucks County Community College. His paintings, drawings, and prints on the black cultural experience are displayed in museums around the world.

In 1966 he created a large mural for display at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 1972 he was commissioned by the Franklin Mint to create the Scott Joplin Sterling Silver Commemorative Medal. After his retirement from teaching in 1985 he was associated with the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.

James Edward Cheek (1932-2010)

James E. Cheek, president emeritus of Howard University, died earlier this month in Greensboro, North Carolina, after a long illness. He was 77 years old.

Dr. Cheek was a native of North Carolina and earned a bachelor’s degree at Shaw University, the historically black educational institution in Raleigh. He later earned a master’s degree in divinity from Colgate Rochester University and a Ph.D. from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

After earning his doctorate, Cheek joined the faculty at Virginia Union University in Richmond. At age 30 he was named president of his alma mater, Shaw University. In 1968 he was chosen as president of Howard University. He served in that post for two decades. During his tenure, enrollments grew by 3,500 students and the school’s budget increased tenfold.

Dr. Cheek received 19 honorary degrees and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Carlene Hatcher Polite (1932-2009)

Carlene Polite, an educator and novelist, has died from cancer at a hospice facility in Cheektowaga, New York. She was 77 years old.

A native of Detroit, her parents were organizers for the United Auto Workers. She was trained as a modern dancer at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance but later turned to writing. She was the author of The Flagellants, a story about the demise of the relationship of a black couple. Her second novel, Sister X and the Victims of Foul Play, was a mystery focusing on the murder of a black nightclub dancer in Paris.

From 1971 to her retirement in 2000, Polite taught creative writing at the University of Buffalo.