In Memory of

James (Jim) Lee Cheatham

April 7, 1952 - May 6, 2021


James (Jim) Lee Cheatham 69 years old of Lee’s Summit Missouri passed away on May 6th 2021.

Jim was born on April 7th, 1952 in Kansas City, Missouri. Jim dedicated his life to being a faithful servant and protector of the United States of America and to its people including his family that he loved and risked his life daily for. Jim was a Eagle Scout and a member of the Tribe of Mic-O-Say.  He was a Veteran of the Vietnam War serving the United States Navy on the USS Ranger in addition to combat time on land. Upon returning from the Navy, he served honorably with the Raytown Missouri Fire Department for over 10 years. In 1986 Jim was accepted by the Department of Treasury United States Customs Service (later Department of Homeland Security) of which he faithfully and valiantly served with honors for over two decades before retiring. In 2019 Jim answered the call of service again returning to duty as a Detective for the Pleasant Valley Missouri Police Department, of which he served until the day his watch ended. In addition, Jim was a commercial truck driver, arson investigator, and served briefly as a range master for local retailer Frontier Justice.

His loss to the law enforcement and firefighter community along to his family will never be adequately described in words. His work ethic and drive to serve and protect his country, community and family should be a beacon for tomorrow’s service people and first responders.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 32 years Deborah L. Cheatham, his father Clyde L. Cheatham, and his mother Lillian M.  Cheatham.

Survivors include his brother Robert Cheatham (spouse Janice Cheatham) his daughter Jamie (Cheatham) Burkett (spouse Jason Burkett) his son Douglas Cheatham (Sherri Byram) his grandchildren Zachary Burkett, Hailey Burkett, Dylan Cheatham, Madison Cheatham, Kalynn Cheatham, Breann Cheatham and Allison Cheatham and one great grandchild Marcelino Gelpi.

Visitation will be 9 AM to 7:00 PM Wednesday May 12, 2021 at Langsford Funeral Home with Jim’s family attending from 4:00 – 7:00PM.   Funeral services will be private due to Covid restrictions.   Burial at the Missouri State Veterans Cemetery in Higginsville, Missouri.  The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made in the memory of Jim Cheatham to The Missouri Law Enforcement Funeral Assistance Team or to the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission S.A.F.E. Fund.


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I met Jim at Church. His smile and genteelness impacted me as I saw in him a man of character. I will miss him.

I had the honor of meeting Jim through his best friend of 35 years, John. During Jim’s visit to Florida, he shared many interesting, adventurous stories of his honorable careers, his Yorkies, Shooter and Bandit, and his family. I didn’t get the opportunity to spend much time with Jim and I did not know him for long but it did not take me very long to figure out that he was a man of loyalty and duty. Loyalty to his friends, his family and everyone he loved and anyone they were associated with he cared for too. Duty to his job and his community. We miss you Jim, rest peacefully up there. I hope Heaven has motorcycles 😇❤️ – TLG

Jim you always answered the call for help when we were working, you had my back I had yours, rest in peace brother. We did not get that last ride we talked about two weeks ago. See you on the side and we will have our ride.

Matthew 5:9

Raul “Rogue’ Guerrero

Jim was a true friend and one of the best law enforcement professionals I ever met.

Jamie and Jason, I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Keep your memories close in your mind and heart and they will carry you through this time.

Jim was a great man. We met at Glynco when we both started our journey with Customs. He was a dedicated, hard worker and leader. He was a true son of Missouri and I appreciated that about him most. We spent days and weeks working out together, running and lifting weights. Jim did not talk a lot about his time in Vietnam but I remember he told me that he went on many missions with Force Recon while serving as a Corpsman. We had a few enforcement actions together in Customs and I had the pleasure of working with him in Homeland Security at the end of our careers. My prayers are with his family. I know he loved you very much.

Jim & I have known & worked together for about three decades. Besides work, we are friends & Brothers, both Vietnam Veterans. We spent many long days working cases. We’ve gone thru good & bad times together. When things hit a low, Jim was there to help. When my wife was diagnosed with Cancer Jim was there, calling or coming by to check on us. We saw him last about 3 weeks ago, he brought me a Vietnam Veteran flag. Last thing he said as he gave me a hug was “I love you Brother “. Our time together is not over, God’s Peace Brother.

I worked a number of criminal cases with Jim while I was an Agent with the KBI. Jim was always ready to help and was a diligent investigator. It is sad to learn of his passing, my he rest in peace with GOD. JEFF

I met Jim and Debbie before their daughter Jamie married my son Jason. We lost Debbie far too soon to ALS. Jim spent his life serving our Country and Community. It was important to him, to serve and protect, no matter the costs it might mean. He was good at it. He too has left, far too soon, and will be missed. For the children and grandchildren left, they have comfort in knowing Jim and Debbie are now reunited together. May this give them the comfort and peace they are together in heaven with our Lord.

I worked with Jim a short time but knew him as a man of integrity and loyalty who risked his life every day for us. I know he loved his little dogs more than anything and if they need a good home i could maybe help. Rest in peace Jim.

Jim was a man that you could depend on, a man of his word. I will miss his words of encouragement and friendship that he shared with me at my time of loss, loosing my son in the line of duty and wife of 41 years! He was there for me, May he rest now and May you know he is in good hands now!

Knew Jim since his days as a firefighter in Raytown. Worked with him in Law enforcement for many years. Jim was a unique individual, an asset to law enforcement and a wonderful, caring friend and a loving family man. God bless you my friend. You will be missed. See ya on the other side. 🙏

So sorry to learn of Jim’s passing. Ran into him in a store recently and visited for quite a while. He gave 110% to everything he did. Met him 28 years ago as the result of an interdiction stop my partner made of 187 pounds of Marijuana. We tried to get assistance of another federal agency for a delivery on a rollover and were rejected. Apparently Jim was there when other agency turned us down and he was quick to raise his hand and volunteer his services. It ended up being a major followup investigation of a close associate of John Gatti the mobster. Always looked forward to seeing Jim whenever us old timers got together. Sad.

Jim lived down the street from my Mom and Dad, when he was a Raytown Fire Fighter. I lost track of Jim, when he moved, but was lucky enough to re-connect when he worked for US Customs and I was an undercover drug Detective. The day he walked into our undercover office was a great surprise for both of us and we recognized each other immediately. His first question was to inquire about my Parents well being and how the old neighborhood was doing. We worked many cases together to make America safer. I purchased so much dope, with Jim having my back and knowing I was in good hands, with him as my back up. I never worried about my safety, with Jim as my backup. Get laughs. long hours, so many surveillances and many memories. I was one of the lucky ones, to have the honor to work with Jim. We have the watch. RIP Brother.

I had the honor of working with Jim when he was a Customs Special Agent. He was a true professional. Conscientious, hard working, honest, and a really good guy. My sincere condolences to his family and all his friends.

Jim was certainly a public servant all the days of his life. I had the privilege of working with him during my federal career and got to spend even more time with him recently as he and I tried to play ‘detective’ at Pleasant Valley. He is greatly missed already – but I know he is in Heaven still watching out for us! And hoping we all make the right decision to join him there someday!

I worked alongside Jim at Frontier Justice. He was always someone I knew I could depend on, not only at work but as a great friend. He was always able to give great advice and amazing encouragement during some of the hardest time of my life. He had an amazing sense of humor as well. I’m glad I was able to get to know you as well as I did. I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you goodbye, but this isn’t goodbye forever. We love you Jim, prayers to your family for healing and strength.

I will always remember Jim’s friendship/service and help at LSPD in the Special Investigations Unit.. It has been my honor to have worked with Jim over the years. I’m very grateful to have known Jim as a friend, neighbor and as a fellow LEO & Navy Vet.
May God rest Jim’s soul and give you all peace.

I am sorry for your loss. I had the privilege to work with Jim at CBP. I was a CBPO but worked with Jim a number of times and he was great. I also worked with Debbie in the office on Rockcreek and Briarcliff she was great too. Please find comfort that they are together in heaven. Be well and I will pray for your family. Mike Banark.

I had the honor of working with some of the finest law enforcement officers on the planet during my career and Jim absolutely was of the best. I first worked with him during the drug rollover case that Jim Ripley mentioned. We needed a federal agency to continue the case and Jim answered the call. We ended up delivering the same load of marijuana to Philadelphia and Long Island, NY. An incredible trip. After that Jim and I worked more smuggling cases delivering goodies to KC that absolutely would not have been done without his hard work. Apart from work he always amazed as being one of those damn guys that could build or fix anything. Still have no idea how someone gains that kind of knowledge. Always enjoyed just hanging out or riding motorcycles together. Somewhere on a hard drive I have pics of the trip to Philly and of he and I watching, in the hot attic of an old elementary school, the feed of video on a smuggler drop off site in KC. We spent several weeks in that attic sweating as is apparent in the picture. Would love to send them to you once I find the right dang folder. This old world is just that much less with his passing.

It was my privilege to know Jim for many years. We worked many cases together during my KCPD days. Jim was a great investigator and a fun guy to be around. My prayers for his family. RIP, brother, until our souls meet again.

Dear family,
I knew Jim for his years at Raytown FD and also private fire investigations. Please know that we in our profession also recognize the your loss. There are no words that can ease your grief but know that all of us benefited from his service to our society. May God bless him, you and all that feel grief at his passing. We will never see such worthy service again.

Working with Jim at RGFD was always fun. He was a very intelligent man who had many skills in his tool belt. I can’t think of anything he failed at. He was always great to talk to because he treated people with the respect he wanted himself. And he deserved it.

Jim was an amazing friend, man and partner in Law Enforcement. Although I only worked with him a brief time, he definitely left his mark on me. The stories he had and the memories he shared with me will be cherished.
Rest Easy my Friend.

I first met Jim’s wife Debbie at ATF as a fellow employee. Eventually I met Jim and subsequently worked with him on many cases after he went to Customs. He was a fierce, dedicated law enforcement officer, whose reputation as a hard worker and his fearless undercover work were unparalleled. We became good friends and I will miss him dearly.

Jim was a great friend for years. We met when he was with the Raytown Fire Dept. and I was with the Raytown Police Dept. We worked fire investigations together and stayed in touch even after he went to the U.S. Customs. We later did private fire investigations for the same company. A great servant to his country and community and family. I’ll miss you brother. RIP.

Many many memories of your dad and mom and our time together at RFD. Camping trips, parties, Christmas with Mark Grant being Santa for all you kids. Jim and Debbie were much appreciated.

Jim was one of the best people and neighbor. We will miss him dearly.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Jamie and Jason and the rest of the family. I met Jim in the late 1980’s when i worked at the US Marshals Service. Jim will truly be missed. He always treated me with the it most respect and always did what he said he was going to do. Until we meet again.

Jason your father in law was a high school classmate of mine. Another classmate sent me the obit earlier today and i saw your name and your moms name. So sorry for your loss

I’m so sorry to hear about Jim passing away. I just heard yesterday 3/28/2023 when I stopped by Raytown FD to visit with Chiefs while I’m in KC for a family funeral. I leave in the Houston TX area and didn’t eknow of his passing. Jim was my mentor in the Fire Service as he and I was firefighters together in Raytown before he left to work for US Customs and I left to sale Fire Trucks for EOne in San Diego CA

I’m currently a A Shift Battalion Chief for South Montgomery County TX FD in Conroe Texas. I also own my own Fire Equipment dealership in TX

I’m truly sadden to hear Jim is gone. God Bless Jim’s Family and Friends

Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to visit and share our memories of Jim

Mike Johnson
409 502 8287

I worked with Jim only 2-3 years at the firehouse and he was a really good guy. He is thought of quite often and it’s always a good thing and it puts a smile on my face and that’s hard to do these days. Rest in peace Jim.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021
9:00 AM to 7:00 PM with family attending from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Langsford Funeral Home
115 SW 3rd St
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063