Cheryl liked to be in control: of herself, her activities, and her environment. She liked organizing things and said her personal motto was “organization for the nation.”
She was born in Durham, ON, to an older, conservative family. As a teen of the 60s she rebelled, but she was a very polite hellion. She wanted excitement, adventure, equality and to make a difference. She joined the Canadian Forces where she earned her education, by scholarship, in Organizational Psychology.
Throughout her career she focused on improving the situation for personnel in the military, especially women and diverse groups, in order to improve the effectiveness of the military. As an advisor to senior leaders, she always told them that she would not tell them if their policies or actions would send them to hell but would point out why they wouldn’t make it to heaven.
During this time, she adopted her wonderful daughter Victoria Lamerson-Brooks and married Dr Will Brooks. She also got to know Will’s children and was honoured to become “Grandma Cheryl” when their children came along.
Her favourite postings dealt with gender integration, diversity, social justice, and change. As the leader of the CF Diversity Office, she was proud of her team’s work to implement the Employment Equity Act. Chairing the Committee on Women in NATO Forces was another highlight in her 32-year career. She retired in 2008 as the Chief Organizational Psychologist of the CF, with oversight of 120 psychologists and psychological associates and a unit of 800 personnel.
Retirement, along with a move to Lunenburg in 2010, allowed her to spend more time with friends and family and to define what retirement meant to her. Contributing to the community in a meaningful way, organizing (of course), and recycling became her emphasis. She founded, owned, and led the Lunenburg Community Consignment store for ten years.
In the last two years of her life, Cheryl grappled with ovarian cancer, and its spread to other organs. She was open about her disease, its treatment, and its path in hopes of educating others. True to her nature, she remained active and involved throughout the course of her illness, and never stopped finding ways to connect people to opportunities and give back to her community.
In the last few weeks of her life, Cheryl shared time and loving goodbyes with her husband Will Brooks, daughter Victoria Lamerson-Brooks (Moody Kayed), Will’s children Kate Oland, Ben Brooks (Leanne), Andrew Brooks (Carolyn Barber), as well as grandchildren Linnaea, Liam and Eben Oland, Thalia Brooks and Amon Brooks. One of her final joys was attending Victoria and Moody’s wedding, which was held at Fisherman’s Memorial Hospital on March 22. Cheryl is survived by her sisters, Joan Napier and daughter Lori, and Brenda Turner and daughter Cheryl Ann.
Cheryl has “slipped the surly bonds of earth and” will dance “the sky on laughter-silvered wings.” (High Flight by John Gillespie MacGee.) If you would like to donate in Cheryl’s name, please do so to Ovarian Cancer Canada.
Heartfelt thanks for the kindness, expertise and caring of so many health care practitioners: Dr. Krista Watson, for early detection of the disease; Dr Sarah Conrad, Lunenburg Family Health; Dr Karla Willows, Nurse Sarah Green and the whole gyneoncology team at NS Cancer Centre; the Victorian Order of Nurses; the wonderful staff at Centennial Ward 5A; Dr. Patricia Caldera and Nurse Practitioner Melanie Spence of the Lunenburg Palliative Care Team, and the exceptional caring and creative nursing staff of Fishermen’s Memorial. There are none better. Finally, thanks to Dr. Cathy Kelly for being a friend who helped to make the end of life a lovely place.
A Celebration of Life will be held in the future. And yes, Cheryl organized it!
Please visit www.sweenyfuneralhome.ca