Friday, November 13, 2009

Gregory Cherry, Man With a Vision

In Memory of Gregory Cherry
Curator & Founder of the James A. Fields House

Gregory Cherry (January 1, 1955 –August 18, 2007) was a man with a vision.

Gregory attended elementary school at Dunbar/T.C. Erwin on 16th Street and Marshall Avenue. While there he started his love for the trumpet under the leadership of Mr. John W. Stewart. It was also in elementary school that he fell in love with his love for life, “Saundra.”

Gregory started high school at Huntington (now Huntington Middle School) at 3401 Orcutt Avenue), where he played trumpet in the once elite, Marching Sound of 100, under the direction of Mr. Wray R. Herring, Sr. He spoke often of the inspiration, direction, morals and values that he received from the teachers at Huntington High School.

In the fall of 1971, Gregory enrolled in Peninsula Catholic High School and graduated in 1973. He excelled in sports, student government and academically, but his love for his alma mater, Huntington High School, never dwindled.

Gregory had an illustrious military career after a short stay at St. Mary’s Seminary. He toured the world serving as an NCO Congressional Escort to the United States Congress. He served as a Military Instructor, United States Non-Commissioned Officers Academy, Ft. Riley Kansas, providing students with leadership skills and management training. He served as a Senior Instrumentalist in the Presidential Honor Guard Fife and Drum Corps, where he played taps for many ceremonial events.

Many prophetic words had been released over Gregory’s life and he had a purpose, a vision, and a determined spirit to see change in the southeast community of Newport News. He was authentic and genuinely cared about those who made contact with him for any reason. He was loved by many and had a heart to share “a nugget of history” with any one that spent time in his presence. He was a man who exhibited tremendous faith and would often say without reservation, “God’s got my back.”

He was the founder of the Downtown Newport News Merchants and Neighbors Association, Inc. whose ultimate vision is to see “unity in the community.” His vision for the southeast community included the James A. Fields Plaza, a Visitor Center, the Farmer’s Market completion, a Historical Walking and Driving Tour of the southeast community and a Community Activity Center.

Gregory’s passion was history. He served often in interpretive programs, dressing on occasions as a Union soldier, James Apostles Fields and as the Confederate Ethiopian Serenader. He was the bugler for the 38th United States Colored Troops (USCT). He was able to capture the hearts of people of all ages, from kindergarten to senior adults. Gregory had established the Beyond School Doors Mentoring Program for youth, ages 8-17, which encompassed three components that included the Civil Guard Training Program, Interpretive Programs and Business Entrepreneurship.

With his love for music, he played flugelhorn with Special Blends Jazz Ensemble at many city and community events. They played smooth jazz with a mellow sound.

Gregory had been released to the community to run and serve in whatever capacity he was called. He served on several city committees for the southeast community and participated in fundraising events for national campaign organizations.

Gregory was a motivator, a mentor, a friend, and an Ambassador for Newport News.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find the James A Fields house to be a wonderful place of historical character and learning. I had the occassion to visit the home and soak up some of the aura - it is a fine home with a wonderfully rich story to tell - one of overcoming adversity, of education and unity among everyone. James Fields was a remarkable man.

Thanks to the late Greg Cherry for all of the wonderful work he had done in his lifetime - for the passion he showed the old house - it spoke to him and now it speaks to others - part of the story that the James A Fields house now tells is a tale of a young man named Greg Cherry. He lives on in this home.

I encourage everyone who has a chance to visit this home and contribute in some way to its upkeep - it does need work and times are tight. Show your support and you won't be dissatisfied.

D Terry, Warwick County Historical Society - 6-1-2011