Reputable Family Includes Generations of Roo Graduates

UMKC Alumni Association honors the North/Cheadle Family with the 2022 Legacy Award.

Each year, the UMKC Alumni Association recognizes the achievements of outstanding alumni with an awards celebration. UMKC is honoring the North/Cheadle Family with its Class of 2022 Legacy Award.

The North/Cheadle family's UMKC legacy dates back to the 1960's. Basil North Jr. (B.A. '61, J.D. '71) and his brother-in-law Donald Cheadle Sr. (M.A. '70) were the first in their family to graduate from Kansas City's university and laid the path for many generations that followed to become Roos.

Currently, 14 members of the North/Cheadle family have graduated from or are currently attending UMKC, including Basil North Jr.'s wife, Loretta North, who both attended UMKC and taught in the School of Nursing.

Not only have members of this family graduated and/or attended UMKC, but each selected different academic degree paths also demonstrating excellence across several schools on campus. The family is very committed to public service, with many participating in numerous and impactful volunteer initiatives.

Below is an interview with some members of the North/Cheadle family:

What role did your family's legacy at UMKC play in your choice to study here?

Basil North Jr.: My older sister, Sandra L. North and my cousin, Bertha Joyce Graham both attended UMKC. I attended on a Victor Wilson scholarship which provided academic scholarships for talented young males in Kansas City who attended either the University of Kansas City or Yale University.

Sheryl North (B.A. ’82, M.D. ‘82): It is special to be able to attend the same university where my mother and father studied. Knowing they walked the same campus and maybe even took classes in some of the same buildings is incredible.

How did your family shape your dedication to education and your chosen profession?

Maria North Morgan (J.D. ‘91): My mother was a teacher and always stressed the necessity of education to create self-sufficiency.  After my mother’s death, when I was 23, my sister Sheryl and I decided to move back to Kansas City to help my father finish raising my younger sister Dayna. My mother’s death was such a life-altering event for me that it changed my career goals. I’d grown up fascinated by watching my father build a career as a well-known civil rights and business attorney, but I was hesitant to choose the same career and live in his very large shadow, however, the pull towards a career in civil rights was too strong, and I decided to apply to law school.

Evelyn Clark (D.D.S. ’88): It came from my family’s dedication to educational excellence. This dedication spanned over a half-century. The examples were set not only by my college education grandmother Bertha Graham and her sister Louie North in the 1920s but also by my mother Mary Graham in the 1930s and ’40s, followed by my aunt and uncle in the 50s and 60s.

How has activism made an impact on your professional careers?

Basil North Jr.: My professional career, practicing law, is, itself activism. I have represented many individuals who have been discriminated against in their employment. I have also been active in the Jackson County Bar Association, both sponsoring leaders and having been president of the association. When I first began practicing law, some judges called African-American lawyers "boys." Through the Jackson County Bar Association, we assisted in ushering such practices out of existence.

Sheryl North: I was very fortunate to attend UMKC Medical School which was always attentive to equity and diversity.  50% of my medical school class was female.

Evelyn Clark: Activism has undoubtedly made a marked impact on the dental profession.  Historically the profession has been predominately male.  But the gender face has changed.  I witnessed it first-hand. In 1984, 25 percent of my entering doctorial class of 120 was female. Currently, female enrollment in dental schools outnumbers male student enrollment.

What professional and personal experiences have most impacted your life? How has your education informed those experiences?

Maria North Morgan: My work in the fields of education and health care field helped to shape a passion for the necessity of building equity into every aspect of our laws and policies in this country. Our laws are built based on our values - so many of the laws created during the 20th century were not designed to benefit all citizens. I took civil rights courses while in law school to learn the history of civil rights. I have spent my legal career working to help people overcome the institutional barriers that prevent them from living a healthy, happy life.

About the Alumni Awards

Join us in honoring the North/Cheadle Family and other Class of 2022 awardees at an in-person celebration at 6 p.m. at the James C. Olson Performing Arts Center. To register, visit UMKC's Alumni Association website. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to donate to student scholarships, contributions can be made online.

Published: Mar 28, 2022
Posted In: Honors and Awards

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