Family of EC student organizes memorial services at L.A. church


Friends and family crowded the Greater Good News Church of God in Christ on Thursday for Tommy Cheatham Jr.’s funeral. Friends from school, and family members, spoke about Cheatham and how he had an impact on them. Photo credit: John Fordiani

Women fanning themselves with tears in their eyes and men holding their hands to their faces to hide the flow of water on their faces, while a young man sang along to the music in front in honor of the deceased.

That was the scene inside the Greater Good News Church of God in Christ that had Tommy Cheatham Jr.’s funeral services.

Cheatham Jr. was an 18-year-old El Camino student who was fatally stabbed in the back yard of his home on April 6.

One man who attended, Peter, boyfriend of EC music professor Suzanne Wong, who was the professor of Cheatham Jr., felt this was a great tragedy.

“It’s sad,” Peter said. “His death may not have affected just one life. It could have affected hundreds. Imagine what he could have done for the community?”

After the song, one of the funeral directors came up to the podium to read the acknowledgements from those who sent their wishes and sympathy to the family.

Followed by Pastor Arlando Hill, who gave a brief sermon, friends and family were allowed to come up and share their thoughts about Cheatham Jr.

Cousins, friends, family, school mates and even Cheatham Jr.’s high school counselor shared moments at the podium talking about him.

His high school counselor brought a moment about how “terrible” he was at sports, but how “great” he was at everything else.

Hill ended the sermon letting the funeral director ask people to let the family have some time before offering their condolences.

At the same time, one of the other funeral directors opened up Cheatham Jr.’s casket.

Soft sobs broke out from those in the crowd. But none were as heavy as sister Oriana Chavez’s tears and voice which bellowed through the church.