March 2, 1951 - May 12, 2018
Cheryl Irene Smith Leeper was born March 2, 1951, in Kadoka, South Dakota, the youngest of three children of George and Florence Smith. On May 12, 2018, Cheryl passed away after a brief battle with cancer.
She grew up in Kadoka and graduated from Kadoka High School in 1969. She graduated from Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota, in 1973.
Cheryl was a people person and never let a friend leave without a hug or kiss on the cheek, which usually left behind a bright red lipstick mark on the recipient. Her gift for gab was honed at an early age, which she spent helping to rent rooms at the family’s “West Motel” in Kadoka (the Gateway to the South Dakota Badlands as Cheryl would proudly tell all). Following college, Cheryl continued working with people the rest of her life: probation officer, public relations director for a telecommunications company (GTE / Verizon), public affair liaison for an international pipeline company. She finished up her working career as the director of development for WDSE / WIRT PBS TV station in Duluth, Minnesota.
She married Gary Leeper on November 21, 1998, in Duluth, Minnesota. They made their home on the north shore of Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota, which she enjoyed for the rest of her life. In recent years, she delighted in spoiling their grandchildren – planning elaborate Halloween costumes and over-the-top New Year’s Eve slumber parties.
She loved to travel, visit with people and drop a few coins in the casino slots. But what she loved best was to quilt. Her passion began with a lap quilt in high school for her mom, who was wheelchair bound due to MS, and evolved into gifts for major life events. Over the years, friends and family received personalized quilts, complete with her “made by Cheryl with love” label on them, for weddings, births, and graduations. They were her projects of love.
Those left behind to miss her include her husband, Gary; stepdaughter, Jennifer Leeper (Mike Mercincavage); stepson, Joseph (Lisa) Leeper and their two children Ruby and James; sister-in-law, Jeannie Smith; niece, Briana (Derek) Beleslie and their son Everitt; nephew, Garr C. (Leslie) Smith and their daughters Briauna and Kataleya; her “adopted” dad and mom, Tom and Marge Driessen, as well as a host of other friends and family.
She is preceded in death by her parents George C. Smith and Florence A. (Britton) Smith, her brothers Guy C. Smith and Gary C. Smith.
At her request, cremation has been accorded and a family gathering will be held at a later date in Belvidere (SD). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be directed to the National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter or St. Luke’s Hospice.