Mary Martina (Andrews) Cheemuk “Kingaq” was born March 30, 1934 in St. Michael to biological parents Harry Johnson and Alexandra Tom, and adoptive parents Anthony and Zita Andrews. Mary was an only child to Alexandra Tom. Mary’s other siblings are Pete Andrews, Lucy Washington, Viola Evan, Anna Doris Matthias, Carol Alexie, Laura Weingarterner, Dora Bell and Brenda Ivanoff.
Mary went to school in White Mountain till she was in the 3rd grade. She also attended the adult education classes with the Vista program in St. Michael. She was the cook for the Head-start program and for the Bering Strait School District. She was also a babysitter through the Kawerak program and a tour guide for the Village of Saint Michael.
Mary met John Edward (Angian) Cheemuk, the love of her life, in St. Michael. They were united in Holy Matrimony on January 26th, 1953. Mary and John were blessed with 10 children. Thomas and Elsie Cheemuk Sr., Hilma and the late Victor Tonuchuk Sr., Elmer Cheemuk, Annie and John Westlock Sr., the late John Cheemuk Jr., the late Harold Cheemuk, Sara and Francis Prince Sr., Milton Cheemuk, Richard and Rose Cheemuk, the late Alberta and Victor Steve Sr., her adoptive Catholic sisters Jessica Marks and the late Rita (Abouchuk) Oyoumik.
Kingaq has 36 grandchildren, 68 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandchild.
Kingaq so loved her friends, Theresa Chisok and the late Rita Abouchuk Oyoumick, and many others.
Mary was a homemaker and a devoted mother and wife. She promoted guidance in faith in God for her children and grandchildren; this was her greatest mission in life. Mary was an openhearted woman, honest with everything she said, whether it was good or bad. She always gave advice and wisdom about how to live a good and holy life.
Kingaq fed whoever came into her home. Her favorite word was “eat!” Mama was humorous in her own way of understanding English words because she would express her thoughts to make what was expressed to her sound funny.
One of Kingaq’s favorite hobbies was collecting religious items, whether prayers, pamphlets, holy cards- anything that pointed to Jesus. She liked gathering native foods and attending bingo and basketball games.
Mary was always calling her children, grandchildren and friends to give advice, to check on them or to let them know how she was doing. She not only wanted her children and grandchildren to have faith in God but she wanted this for everyone she knew. She knew the importance of the soul and continuously prayed for everyone, that they might receive God’s grace. Kingaq was a great example of faith to everyone.
She attended church until she could no longer walk. Mary was hungry for Christ, especially for Christ present in the Eucharist.
She was preceded in death by her husband John Cheemuk Sr., her biological parents Harry Johnson and Alexandra Tom, uncles Richard, Clifford and Edward Tom, and her aunt Irene Lockwood. Her deceased children include John Jr., Harold Cheemuk and her baby, Alberta Steve. Her deceased grandchildren include Johanna Westlock, Johnny Cheemuk Prince, Audi Steve and numerous great-grandchildren.
The Cheekmuk family would like to thank the caregivers. Special thanks to Viola Evan, Elmer Cheemuk, Chynelle Lockwood, Thomas Cheemuk Jr., Tamara Atchak, Robin Steve, Tammy Westlock and John Cheemuk the 3rd. Special thanks to the Saint Michael health aids and P.A. Dave Davalos.
Thank you to all those who visited and prayed with our mom. We would like to thank the Norton Sound hospital staff, especially Dr. Lui, nurses Hunter, Keille andRiva and Social worker Christine Shults.
Many thanks to Bering Air, JD and Pauline Richardson, YDFDA, Emmonak Corporation, The City of Saint Michael, The Saint Michael Native Corporation and the Saint Michael AC. Our apologies go to those who we have not mentioned.
We would like to thank the coffin makers and cross builders: Thomas Westlock Jr., Matthew Andrews Jr., Tony Austin, Glen Shipton and Francis Prince Sr. Thank you to the grave diggers: Chris Acoman, John Cheemuk the 3rd, Victor Tonuchuk Jr., Dale Cheemuk Nashonak. Our apologies go to those who we have not mentioned.
Many thanks to all those who offered their prayers, cooked, cleaned, brought food or donated in any way. We would like to thank those who are supporting us through this difficult time with prayer, both near and far. Quoted by Hilma Tonuchuk, “I tell mom that she is going to meet her parents for the first time …”