Star Tower Named for ‘Top Gun’ Philanthropist
A special ceremony was held
Thursday, May 22, to name the Star Tower at the Scobee Education Center. The
Tower is now officially named the Charles E. Cheever Jr. Star Tower.
The Cheever’s, family, friends and San Antonio
College administrators were in attendance for the special ceremony highlighting
the Cheever’s contributions and the Scobee Education Center.
Visitors were able to tour the facility and even
see a trailer and full-length show in the planetarium. Before all of that,
attendees heard from Dr. Robert Zeigler, President of San Antonio College;
Chris Cheever, Senior Vice
Broadway Bank and a son of Charles E. Cheever Jr.; and Mr. Charles E. Cheever
Jr., Chairman Emeritus of Broadway Bancshares.
“This is an exciting day for all of us,” said Zeigler.
We get to unveil this wonderful facility, which we are very proud of. We think
this is going to be a real landmark for the city and a hub for STEM education
throughout the region.
Chris Cheever, said his
parents, and grandparents, were instrumental in teaching him and his siblings
the value in giving back to their communities. These were values imbedded in
his father from his parents, Chris’s grandparents, Col. Charles and Betty
Cheever. When they weren’t busy at the bank, they were teaching us other
“They were very busy teaching
us to brush our teeth, dress properly, study, not watch TV, EVER, and getting
all of us engaged in our communities,” said Chris. “That’s something we
His grandparents were huge
fans of the NASA program. His grandfather even rolled in a big TV to the bank
so everyone could watch the moon landing. It was one exception to the no TV
A picture of the moon
landing, which the grandfather originally commissioned for the bank by Bob
McCall, will now hang at the Scobee Education Center.
Chris continued saying he
remembers attending many non-profit events while growing up and continuing to
this day. Personally, he said, he will never forget the day his dad
‘discovered’ the Challenger Learning Center. He said after that first trip, he
was hooked and impressed with what it had to offer.
“I understood why my dad
could not stop talking about it,” said Chris.
He knew how important this
project was to San Antonio. My father worked hard to help keep it afloat before
and after the loss of the old building at Brooks City Base.
The engagement this provides
to children is infectious. It is mind blowing how cool it is. Then to see these
young kids get hooked into science, engineering basics, math, communications,
and everything else, said Chris. “It’s a legacy for future generations of San
To have this tower named
after my father is awesome. It’s only fitting for a guy that flew F86’s and
P51’s for the Air Force. When he moved recently, he made sure some plastic
models of those planes were very well taken of.
The family calls my father
‘Top Gun’ after the movie and for his baseball cap that bares the name that he
wore all the time. My dad is modest and did not want the tower named after him,
but we insisted, and he finally relented.
“This will be a beacon to all,” said Chris
Cheever of the Tower and Learning Center.
Charles Cheever Jr. said he wanted to give a big
thanks to the person who got all of this started, June Scobee. She undertook
this project, almost single-handedly, eventually gaining the support from
people like President George H.W. Bush, and got the Challenger Learning Centers
going, and now we are here today.
“She’s one heck of a person,” said Charles.
It’s been remarkable to partner with San Antonio
College. It’s been a match made in heaven.
“The Challenger (Center) could have been
successful before. It’s going to be 10 times more successful as part of the San
Antonio College team,” said Charles. “It’s the best thing that has every
happened to this.”
He continued to thank the committee’s that have
helped get the project going here and the donors. Charles added that he was not
the only one that helped out in getting the funds for the Scobee learning
Center. “All the donors are very important in this.”
This wasn’t all smooth sailing. He said, at
first he did not like the thought of having the Star Tower named after him.
“Honors like this should go to people after they
die,” said Charles Cheever.
I finally said okay, and the rest is history.
I have been passionate about the Challenger
Center for years. I realized it was doing a very good job at generating
interest in young people to be more aggressive in their class selection in high
school, and taking some of the harder classes. They realized the sciences were
very important. It got them involved, Charles said.
Charles said the Center is very important
because it helps get children interested in the sciences. He thinks it is
exciting to know soon there will be busloads of children arriving at the Scobee
With the partnership with San Antonio College,
not only are the kids going to get exposed to what the Center has to offer, but
they will be exposed to the college and learn that a good community college is
right here, said Cheever.
After a brief trailer of what is to come at the
Planetarium, Zeigler said, he always thinks things like this should have a
‘wow’ factor, "And this definitely has one."
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Mr. Charles E. Cheever Jr., as well as his six children, has demonstrated
exemplary public service to San Antonio College, one of the Alamo Colleges, in
his volunteer role as campaign general chair for the Challenger Learning Center
capital campaign. As of January, the campaign has raised more than $3.6 million
and is on track to reach the goal of $5 million for construction and $2 million
The Cheever Star Tower is only part of the Scobee Education Center at
San Antonio College. The Center is part of a global initiative to continue to
pursue the mission of those astronauts who lost their lives in the 1986
Challenger Shuttle accident. The Scobee Education Center at San Antonio College
is scheduled to open in early October 2014. The Center will offer simulated
space missions, science education and teambuilding programs.
Cheever has devoted much of his life to public service and philanthropy. In
addition to serving as General Chair for the Challenger campaign, Cheever is
also a charter member of the Walter McAllister Society at San Antonio College,
and is the Founding Chairman of the San Antonio Education Partnership and