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Cheri May Cavanaugh
Cheri Fitzgerald was born on May 20, 1946 in Buffalo NY. She was the 3rd of 4 children (Gayle, Paul, William) born to Ida and Floyd Fitzgerald. She grew up on Lawrence Place on Buffalo’s west side, and attended Lafayette High School. After High School graduation, she attended the University of Buffalo where she discovered an interest in physical education (leading to a Master's Degree) and found the love of her life in John (Jack) Cavanaugh.
Cheri and Jack were married in 1968 and starting from modest means, would live the “American Dream” together. They both began their teaching careers in the City of Buffalo, and Cheri would soon give birth to their daughter Courtney. Shortly afterwards, Jack and Cheri both found jobs in the Sweet Home School District, and later, Cheri gave birth to her son David. Cheri’s final 15 years teaching were spent with Jack at Glendale Elementary School, where they co-taught Physical Education. The last minutes of her formal teaching career were spent on the gym floor, dancing with her partner Jack, in front of a teary-eyed attendance of colleagues and students.
Cheri’s golden years were mostly spent in Arizona, where she was referred to as ‘Nani’ to 5 grandchildren: Sydnie, Jack, Lucy, Sam and Ben. Cheri became an active volunteer in the Sun City West community and also became a regular on the pickleball courts. She never stopped being a teacher, and taught Physical Education to her grandchildren Lucy and Sam 3 days a week for a year and half during the COVID Pandemic.
Cheri was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2022, and passed away on May 15, 2023. Her remains were donated to "Research for Life". Her family was grateful for the fight she took on after her diagnosis, because it provided the time to reflect on her life as a sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, and teacher. Lastly, her obituary could not be completed without referencing her time spent as a friend. Friendship, whether it be with family, colleagues, contemporaries, neighbors, teammates or simply other ‘friends’, may have been Cheri’s most defining trait. It was observed by all the cards, and outpouring of love she and her family received during her battle with Leukemia.
During her final months Cheri had time to think and appreciate the wonderful life she lived. In Lieu of flowers, or donations, she requested that anyone wishing to memorialize her would:
“Do something nice for someone you love.”
“Remember not to waste the ‘minutes’ you have left to spend with your loved ones.”