Cheryl grew up in the little town of Richford, Vermont, on the border of Quebec, Canada. Her greatest ambition in life, as she expressed in her high school yearbook, was doing what others said couldn’t be done. This she did. Her goal was to be an English teacher. This she accomplished while teaching in Vermont, King City, and Seaside and Marina, in middle and high schools. Upon receiving an award from the California Association of Teachers of English she explained why she taught:
“I teach because I have an innate need to teach; I can’t do normal work as other people do; I love being in a room all day teaching; I can partake of real life only by changing it; I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink; I believe in literature, in the art of the novel, more than I believe in anything else. It is a habit, a passion. I have a childish belief in the immortality of libraries, and I hope, as Borges did, that heaven is a kind of library. I teach to be happy.”
Cheryl was also happiest in Nature where she thrived, most especially under a sunset and full moonrise by the ocean. The natural world brought out her sense of wonder and inner beauty. Her light shone at the ocean, on a mountaintop, and in every forest where she set foot. Her motto, which she learned in the 1970s at the National Outdoor Leadership School, was to “leave no trace”; however, she left a brushstroke of light, a pathway leading to a good life for all of us to follow.
Not only in nature, but in life, Cheryl’s humility, grace, quiet strength and determination guided her in leading those who knew and loved her on how to live well. Whether or not you were a student of Cheryl’s, you learned from her because that is who she was, and with her love we learned we were far more capable than we ever knew. She offered us — her students, friends, and family — the tools, impetus, confidence and belief needed for a fulfilling life. The bell has rung now; class is over. The best classes are the hardest to leave, and hers was the best, most wonderful class. The world is a better place because she lived and taught in it. Cheryl’s first priority and love was for her family. She is survived by her husband, Buzz; her daughter, Heather Kramer; her son, Zachary Joseph (Ayala); her beloved grandchildren, Zaia Kramer, Sami and Nora Joseph; her brothers, Michael (Maureen) and Barry (Christy) McMurphy; her sister, Kerri Plante; her loving nieces and nephews, as well as her extended family, and a legion of wonderful friends who will hold her closely in their hearts.
If you wish to give a donation you might think about making one to an organization that is consistent with Cheryl’s legacy. A celebration of life will be held in the spring