When Benjamin B. Cheney passed suddenly of a heart attack at sixty-six on May 18, 1971, the seven-paragraph item in the next evening's Tacoma News Tribune noted Cheney "was best known for his sponsorship of athletic teams. More than ἀve thousand persons had played for Cheney Studs teams the past twenty years."
Maybe folks did know Mr. Cheney best as the sportsman. The part-owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. The humanitarian whose fortunes allowed two decades worth of Tacoma kids to swing for the fences and dribble around a basketball court. The aspiring professional ballplayer who—despite his best efforts—tried and failed to hit major league curve balls and had to abandon his personal dream. The civic leader who built his adopted hometown its own ἀeld of dreams, Cheney Stadium, so generations' worth of lovers of America's pastime could love it up close.
Yes, maybe Mr. Cheney was best known for all that.
But it should not be so. The world should remember Cheney for much more than that. We should remember him more for how he amassed his fortune than how he spent it. Because Benjamin B. Cheney changed architecture in America.That house you live in? If it was built after World War II, you likely owe much of its design to Cheney.
Former journalist and public information guru Dan Voelpel (teachers love him!) shares the practical history of the humble two-by-four. In the early 1960's, Cheney Studs were being produced at a rate of more than 100 million board feet per year.