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May 2, 2013

Cheryl R. Stelter

The Daily Star

---- — Cheryl R. Stelter

NEW KINGSTON — Cheryl R. Stelter, of New Kingston, passed away on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, following a lengthy illness and battle with cancer.

As Cheryl’s husband for 35 years, I struggled with how to summarize one’s life in a brief column and still do her justice.

Born and raised in Queens, Cheryl graduated from John Adams High School and attended Queens College for a year.

For those who knew Cheryl, you are aware of her passion, strong beliefs, a desire for privacy and an unwavering commitment to things that were important to her and what she loved to do: the environment (she was years ahead of most folks in her concern over global warming and its serious effects on our weather, pollution, etc.)

Cheryl served as Clean Communities coordinator, Plastics Recycling coordinator, Litter Control officer and chairperson of the Environmental Commission — all of which when we lived in Matawan, N.J., and vice chairperson of the Environmental Roundtable for the Bay Shore Region in New Jersey. She loved fly fishing in the county’s great trout streams and was the first female officer of Trout Unlimited Jersey Shore Chapter.

A fan of music — from Jerry Garcia’s Grateful Dead to raps Kanye West and most in between and camping — from Maine to Pennsylvania — she loved the outdoors, fresh air, crackling fire and outdoor cooking.

Cheryl was a talented artist and loved arts and crafts and folk art — our home is a testimony to her skills and our shared love of early American art and furniture, gardening — she spent endless hours creating a beautiful and natural garden that surrounds our home — I think “perennial” was her middle name.

Sayde, our wonderful daughter that Cheryl committed 18 years as a stay-at-home mom, helped successfully launch Sayde’s life. Her black pug, Owen, brings hours of joy and loyalty to both of us. And most importantly, honesty; I know of no one more honest and “street smart” than Cheryl was — never a lie, never deceitful to some maybe honest to a fault.

After Sayde’s life was launched, Cheryl returned to work serving as a family services worker for Delaware Opportunities Head Start program serving Arkville, Hobart and Grand Gorge centers for more than 10 years.

Aside from me; daughter, Sayde; Cheryl is survived by two sisters, Marilyn and Lorraine; many nieces and nephews; two wonderful brothers-in-law and a sister-in-law.

Cheryl was predeceased by her sister, Diane; her beloved mom, Marge, who had a profound impact on Cheryl’s life and was a wonderful mother-in-law, (thanks Marge for teaching Cheryl to make (Marge’s great spaghetti sauce); and her two amazing labs, Bertha and Ramona, who hunted with her and roamed the trails and hills in Halcottsville with Cheryl every day they lived.

As we move through life, each step has a purpose in our plan, some a bit spontaneous … first in Manhattan with marriage and birth of Sayde, then to Jersey Shore — our first real home, great schools, wonderful people, then to Halcottsville in the Catskills more than 20 years ago — a real life change, lots of land, log home, beautiful country.

As Sayde grew into a young lady and off to college, then to New Kingston to share the rest of our lives together. Wow, 35 years have flown by! April 1, marked our anniversary (married twice on the same day 30 years apart) a date selected so we would smile and never forget it.

As my partner all these years, Cheryl made up for all my failings, which probably made us a good team. I will always remember her beautiful smile, natural beauty and Queens “twang” ... she taught me a lot about so many important things … some I am still learning. We first met when she was my secretary for a company in New York (she hated me as a boss!) and our paths have stayed together ever since.

It is so difficult to watch someone with so much vitality and strength weaken before your eyes, but the vision in my eyes and my memories will keep me laughing, happy, strong, and the beautiful person called Cheryl always on my mind.

Cheryl will be cremated in a simple, private service for family only, and at some point in the future we will be interred together overlooking the mountains and stream we both love. “Together then, together now.” I love you Cheryl, you’ll never be alone, Steve (Finkel).

In lieu of flowers, donations in Cheryl’s memory may be made to Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, 1 Birchwood Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820.

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Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the Hynes Funeral Home, Margaretville.