It is with great sadness the family of Robert Allen Cheezic announces his passing on Sunday, January 17, 2021, surrounded by his loving family. He was born on January 2, 1939, in Pittston, Pennsylvania to the late Daniel Cheezic and Helen Green and predeceased by his brother John Petrone. He will be remembered by his loving wife Alyce (Schiavone) of 57 years and his children, Brett Allen Cheezic and wife Rebecca, and Allyson Jana Petrauskas and her husband Steven. Brett and Allyson were the lights of his life. His grandchildren, Alycia Lonnie Petrauskas, Alexis Jena Petrauskas, Max Cheezic, and Anna Leigh Cheezic, whom he loved and adored. They made his life complete. He was predeceased by his mother-in-law Lonnie Schiavone. They had such a special bond that even death could not separate them. Also, his beloved cat Lucy Lui.
To Janet Lawlor, who was his favorite sister, he loved her beyond words. She was always there for him and her wonderful family, husband Andy, and nephews Brandon and his wife Stephanie, and Bryant. To his Godchildren, they always went above and way beyond Bryant Robert Lawlor, Sharon Pace, and Tiadora Josef, who was like a daughter to him. Thank you.
To his Breakfast club, Adam Gorski, Roger LaFrance, Gary Welton, and Rich Marano, he loved the times when you were together.
He leaves behind his Uncle Vincent Pace, Aunt Mary Caruso and Elaine Schiavone, sisters Carolyn Cockfield and Darcy Cheezic, and all his cousins Gary Pace, Sharon Pace, Neil Pace, Jamie Pace, Karen Pace and her husband Joe Beatle. He had a beautiful life filled with love.
He moved to his adopted hometown of Waterbury, Connecticut, when he was five years old. He attended Waterbury schools and spent many happy summers with activities at the Boys Club of Waterbury and playing Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) basketball. He attended Leavenworth High School, where he excelled in football and baseball, earning varsity letters in both sports and served as Vice President of his senior class.
Graduating Leavenworth High School in 1956, Robert A. Cheezic chose to meet his country’s responsibility and enlisted in the United States Air Force. Initially, he was stationed at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, New York. He was immediately selected to be a pitcher for the Air Force Military baseball team. During an eventful game, a hard hit ball back to the pitcher broke Cheezic’s nose. The closest military hospital for aid and reconstruction was at West Point Military Academy. It was the weekend of a visit to the hospital by then-President General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who wondered what this Air Force man was doing in an Army hospital? They enjoyed a pleasant and historic talk together – Robert A. Cheezic and the President!
Having been stationed at Stewart Air Force Base for two years, he had hoped his next station might be more exciting and in a foreign land. Paris-Orly Air Force Base in France was his first choice. Instead, in 1959, Osan Air Force Base in Seoul, Korea, was to influence and change his life forever.
As an appreciation and respect for the USA and US servicemen in Korea, there to help protect their country, martial artists of the Moo Duk Kwan allowed servicemen to train in Tang Soo Do. Robert A. Cheezic encountered Jae Chul Shin (standing to the far right in the picture), a Korean native and one of Hwang Kee’s first line Master Students, who was teaching martial arts to the American soldiers. Fascinated by what he saw, Robert A. Cheezic joined the club, and Jae Chul Shin took him in as a student.
Robert A. Cheezic earned his Black Belt, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do # 2278, in Korea in 1960. Among the first Americans to earn black belt distinctions in Korea, his classmates included Bob Thompson and actor Carlos (Chuck) Norris, with whom he remained friends.
Completing his military service meant starting a career in management with companies that included Amoco, Anaconda American Brass, Atlantic Richfield, and Stevenson Lumber, where he worked during the day and taught Tang Soo Do in the evenings in his back yard. He then moved to Mary Abbott School as the number of students grew and the weather cooled before opening his own studio, the American Tang Soo Do Academy, which later became the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation. Robert A. Cheezic was the first one to establish a Tang Soo Do studio in the Northeast region of the United States. There were no Tang Soo Do clubs in Connecticut or New England. At that time, Karate and Kung Fu were Asian based Martial Arts usually not shared outside of the close Asian communities.
Robert A. Cheezic continued to follow the values instilled through Moo Duk Kwan to share the art of Tang Soo Do with those who shared the same values of integrity, concentration, respect, self-control, humility, and indomitable spirit. He was a featured match at the first Connecticut Professional Karate Tournament held in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the late 60s. He often encouraged his students, attended events with them, and competed in the earliest Karate tournaments in the Northeast, District of Columbia, and Canada. His teams received wins or places of honor in every tournament in categories from the White Belt through the Black Belt.
In 1965, Robert A. Cheezic ran the first Yankee Nationals Open Karate Tournament in Waterbury, Connecticut. Along with the Yankee Nationals, the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation sponsors four tournaments a year exclusively for the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation members. These tournaments promote honing of skills as well as friendly competition. They are followed by a banquet each year to celebrate the achievements of each competitor.
In 1974, the Official Karate Magazine interviewed Jae Chul Shin, Grandmaster Cheezic’s instructor, where he stated that of the thousands of students he had trained, only two attained champion status, Chuck Norris and Bob Cheezic. In the 1970s, Grandmaster Cheezic retired from competition to sponsor his students instead. He formed karate teams and traveled within the United States, Australia, Russia, Poland, Germany, England, Bermuda, China, France, and other countries where his students won top trophies and left an incredible impression.
To date, Grandmaster Cheezic has promoted 3000 Black Belts and more than 100 Master Belts in the Art of Tang Soo Do. There are 58 active Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation Schools in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
Grandmaster Cheezic was one of the first practitioners of Tang Soo Do to allow women to train in the martial arts. He was also among the first to allow children to practice, learn, and follow the Values and Tenets of Tang Soo Do to better themselves, learn discipline, and be proud of their accomplishments. He led the way to encourage special needs individuals to participate in Tang Soo Do. The members have included individuals with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, visual and auditory impairments, stroke victims, and those who suffered accident-related trauma. The Cheezic Tang Soo Do Special Needs Team was invited to give a demonstration at the World Special Olympics held at Yale in 1995. Grandmaster Cheezic brought that team to Europe to compete in 1997. The success of the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation challenged athlete program has been overwhelming and beneficial to the physical and mental growth. Grandmaster Cheezic has credited much of the challenged team’s success to Master Janet Grimes, who heads the program.
In 1990 Grandmaster Cheezic was invited to bring his Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation Black Belts to run a tournament and give demonstrations in Poland and in Russia (USSR). He then went on to establish schools in each country where karate had previously been outlawed in the Soviet Union block. Within the year, the Soviet Union no longer existed, but the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation schools remained!
Most recently, in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Grandmaster Cheezic sponsored the 1st World Open Tang Soo Do Virtual Championships. More than 400 participants from all over the world competed virtually, and the second championship is planned for this year.
A large part of Grandmaster Cheezic’s life was dedicated to community activities and service. He was associated with the Boys and Girls Club of America since his youth and was voted president of the Anderson Boys Club, where he later served on their Board of Directors. Grandmaster Cheezic is an Anderson Boys Club Alumni Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1991 and received the Boys Club Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for his tireless work and dedication. He had also served as a member of the Catholic Family Services Board of Directors, the Waterbury Republican Town Committee member, Chairman of the Arco Metals Civic Action Program, and was honored by the Waterbury Sportsman Club in 1993.
Grandmaster Cheezic has been honored in the past by induction into several Martial Arts Halls of Fame, including the New England Karate Hall of Fame in 1991. The Professional Karate League (PKL) Hall of Fame named him the 1996 Promoter of the Year, and in 2001 he was inducted into the Action Karate Hall of Fame. In 2006 Budo International America Hall of Fame honored him as a Legend Grandmaster of Tang Soo Do.
Grandmaster Cheezic was a man of great compassion and strength. He treated his Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation members as he treated his family. He adored his family and echoed this sentiment in the hearts of the thousands of martial artists he has touched across the globe. Family values are a significant part of the Cheezic Tan Soo Do Federation Attitude.
To be a member of the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation means to be directly linked to the origins of Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do Codes, Tenets, and Principles. In the words of Grandmaster Cheezic, “It’s more than just Karate, always leave more than you take”. One of Grandmaster Cheezic’s favorite Ronald Reagan quotes says, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”
In lieu of other considerations, it is Grandmaster Cheezic’s greatest wish that each of us would do a daily “Random Act of Kindness” in his memory. Help a person in need, mentor a child, love your family, be kind to and love each other every day. Tang Soo!
Arrangements for a memorial service will be forthcoming.
Any messages to the Cheezic family or to the Cheezic Tang Soo Do Federation may be sent by visiting the Casey’s Eastside Memorial Funeral Home website at www.eastsidememorial.com