The Lake community lost an artist and a friend on Tuesday night last week (March 6). She was a spirited and respectable tennis player and a ballroom dancer, too. Plus, she baked about the best apple pie you’ll ever sink your teeth into. She was from the Midwest, so she knew nothing goes better with apple pie than cheddar cheese. She baked it right into the top crust, which was always homemade and always light and flaky.
Cherie Fletcher and her husband, Dick, moved to Smith Mountain Lake, like many of us, after retirement. She loved it here: the sound and smell of the lake lapping against the front yard; the serenity of it in winter; the excitement of it in summer; the gentle reawakening in spring and beauty of fall. They both loved having their children and then later their grandchildren come stay with them to experience first-hand the unique beauty found here.
Her back yard was a sanctuary for wild creatures, which she immortalized in carvings from driftwood that had washed up during storms. As a symbol of her love for the natural world, their property was recognized by the National Wildlife Federation as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. She captured many of nature’s wonders on canvas, too, in oil or, her favorite...pastels. Her intricate carvings turned ordinary beef bones into ivory sculptures and her wild bird woodcarvings were among the best. Her cupboard full of blue ribbons was proof of her many talents, but one of her greatest gifts was passing an appreciation and love of art to her children and grandchildren. Her grandchildren enjoyed hands-on activities in her art studio, Wildwood, located downstairs.
She was a tiny thing with a tremendous spirit and determination. She and Dick moved a ton or two of rock into her garden for paths and a pond. While most 65-plus year olds would have opted for a life of leisure, they did their own house painting, landscaping and gardening.
She loved a flea market “bargain” that she could re-upholster, re-glue and refinish. She made her own bread and jam and pickles and ate whatever she wanted without gaining a pound. It was a challenge finding a book she hadn’t already read and she was always “up” for a good movie. She had Dick practicing dance routines in the garage between meetings of their dance club. At least one ski trip a winter was on her calendar along with a couple of outings to the ice skating rink. They traveled a bit and she remembered every last detail of every sight in each country and recorded them in travel albums. She could have been the travel guide.
Born on December 20, 1939 in Cleveland, Ohio, Cherie grew up in nearby Olmstead Falls. On September 1, 1962, she married her soul mate, Richard Fletcher, to whom she was married for 49 years, and they had three children, Gregory, Kristin, and Geoffrey; and three grandchildren, Andréa, Ian, and Erik. She is survived by her two sisters, Amanda Winters and Bonnie Woods, and was preceded in death by her youngest son, Geoffrey, and oldest sister, Denise Kossuth. She will be forever missed and always remembered by her family and many friends.
A date for a memorial to honor her life will be announced at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Cherie can be made to the MPS1 Research Foundation, a non-profit charity founded for her grandson, Erik, at www.helpMPS1.org.