Cherie K. Woodworth died this week after a very brief illness. Totally stunned.

Cherie K. Woodworth died this week after a very brief illness. Totally stunned. (Shutterstock)

This morning when I logged into Facebook, one of my notifications was that a friend had invited me to “like” our mutual friend Cherie Woodworth’s new Facebook page.

What cool thing has Cherie done now, I wondered? A new book? Some interesting project? With her seemingly boundless energy and her Yale Ph.D., the sky seems the limit for someone like her.

Here’s what she has done: She just died of cancer.

Apparently she was only diagnosed four weeks ago, and the disease spread incredibly fast. Her friend Adriana writes:

This morning when I got into work, I found a message waiting for me. It was from the husband of a friend of mine: “Cherie passed away Tuesday from metastatic cancer…” Cherie, who I’d known nearly 20 years. Cancer?!? What cancer? I scrolled through my emails to find the last time I’d heard from her. It was June 14, when she congratulated a mutual friend on a new job: “Great news!” she’d said. “What are you looking forward to in your new job?” She was diagnosed with cancer just a week after that, June 22. It ravaged her quickly.

I also didn’t know she was sick. I have fallen out of touch with her, as happens too many times with too many people.

I loved her sense of humor. One of my best memories of Cherie was that in the late 1990s, before we had grown suspicious of emailed stories, she wrote a satire piece and sent it out to some friends. It was a made-up, funny story about some kids in Brigham City, Utah playing “Farmer in the Dell” in a uniquely Mormon way. But the newswire picked it up as real news (!). And as you can see here, it wasn’t the last time one of Cherie’s brilliant pieces of satire fooled the media.

I am so sorry for Cherie’s family to bear this loss — sorry for her two kids to grow up without her constant sense of fun, sorry for her husband in losing his cherished partner. And I’m sorry for her friends. Adriana Velez’s blog post is spot on when she writes:

Pay attention to your loved ones, your children, your friends. Especially your oldest friends, the ones we think will be around forever just because it seems like they’ve always been there. No one is a permanent part of your life.

Wise words. Last night I had the joy of reconnecting with an old friend from the Princeton days, who came to Cincinnati for dinner and spent the night. We had such a great time. I need to make a point of keeping those connections open. Life is too precious not to cling to old friends.

Rest in peace, Cherie. You have touched many lives with your intelligence and wit. I feel lucky to have known you, even a little.

And Lord, receive her spirit into your presence. She will make you laugh.

9 Comments

  1. Cherie was one of the cherished voices on ELWC+ (“Electronic Latter-day Women’s Caucus + men”) — a 1990s listserv forerunner of today’s web-based blogs and forums. She was brilliant and witty and articulate.

    Sincere condolences to her family and to all who loved her.

  2. I know you are watching over your children. They are missing you deeply. I am a lucky person and Mom to have crossed paths with Cherie on my life journey. We wernt old friends, students,.or collegues. Just neighbors connecting on the common interest of our kids. Cherie and I at first glance didnt.appear to strike up a close cosmic click however her interest and kindness especially to details always kept me drawn to this vibrant, gentle, and positive mother. Our children played together,.we shared recipes, beauty secrets, info on all good discounts we could use for our families. Cherie expressed her respect for my very challenging routine as a single parent. She always kept me uptodate on the local issues and events that were close to my heart. One of my fondest memories is when her and I lead the dog parade at east rock festival last fall. she got such a kick out of it. Thank you Cherie. Thank you for including me,.not giving up on email and texts. Thank you for just caring for realizing what was important to me. Thank you for being real. genuine. I truly enjoyed watching you with your children. You spent as much time as I did with mine. I admire you for putting them first. They will truly benefit from that time. When other parents were at dinner parties, dining, or traveling you spent your time with them. My heart brakes for your little ones. I pray as your friends and family mourn they surround them with love, kindness,.and support.
    Cherie+ you were one fabulous lady. You helped many people,.your commumity aand shed a bright light on each day.
    You will be missed and I am very grateful for the moments we shared. If I can take one thing from this tragic loss is to greet each day with a smile and each person with dignity. Take the time to get to know the people who come into our lives. What may seem insignificant now may turn into a ripple effect of positive engergy that only adds to the blessing of life. Peace and love for your loved ones.

    support as the continue on. Cherie,

    you were, are one fabulous lady. This world was certainly better with you in it. I will miss seeing you in the court yard, market,.at school. You helped alot of peoplr in the community

  3. and always shared a sense of joy where ever you went. Your home, our Street, the kids school will not shine as bright,.sing as loud or generate as much joy but the heavens above will be a better place when your loved ones get there some day because of you. May you rest in peace, love and guide your children from a far. Your friend, Tina

  4. Cherie was my professor in a class on medieval saints at Yale in the fall of 2001. I ended up writing the most major paper of my senior year on Saint Margery Kempe because of the inspiration and wonder I found in Cherie’s course. I am incredibly sad to learn of her passing. She was a great scholar and a moving teacher.

  5. We also got an email from Brad. I am incredibly sad about this and filled with compassion for him and for their children! I have to say that Cherie was one of a couple of Mormon women friends I had during my time at Yale who by example taught me that it is OK to think deeply about things, to question things, to laugh, even to disagree. If only we could talk more now! We even shared a love of medieval saints, though my work on them was just beginning when we moved from New Haven. Wish I could have spent more time with her!

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