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1951 Cheryl 2021

Cheryl D. Smith

November 8, 1951 — February 22, 2021

Cheryl D. Smith (Wilson), a resident of Conway, Massachusetts, died unexpectedly on February 22, 2021 at the age of 69, due to a heart attack precipitated by symptoms of a recurrent cancer.

Cheryl was born in Ligonier PA as the first among five children to Gerald and Eleanor Smith, longtime residents of Newville PA. She was predeceased by her father, her brother James Smith, and sister Susan George. She is survived by her beloved husband John Wilson of Conway MA, her mother Eleanor Smith, her sister Patricia George and husband Dale, and her brother William Smith and wife Judy, all of Carlisle PA. She is further survived by brother-in-law Thomas George and wife Cecelia of West Bolyston MA, sister-in-law Brenda Smith of Mt. Holly Springs PA, and a considerable flock of nieces and nephews, their spouses, and their children.

Cheryl graduated from Uxbridge High School in Uxbridge MA, received her LPN degree at the David D. Fanning School, and worked as a floor nurse for nearly 2 decades at Hahnemann Hospital in Worcester MA, where she also assisted in design of their diabetes education program. Following a brief side-trip into software design, Cheryl returned to her professional love, earning an RN from Franklin County Community College and FNP from UMass, Amherst. When still pursuing her RN and FNP degrees Cheryl developed and directed the first Diabetes Educational Support Group for Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, MA. In addition to lively Q & A discussions focused on self-care through diet and exercise, Cheryl’s programs also incorporated educational lectures by physicians and other specialists on wide –ranging topics in diabetes management. The tangible success of that program resulted in nomination for the New York Times Nursing Award. Following achievement of her FNP Cheryl next developed, and for many years directed, the Nursing Center program for the Council on Aging in Amherst MA.

Despite being diagnosed with Type I Diabetes at age 5, Cheryl managed through diligent self-management to avoid nearly all the medical complications that affect people with diabetes. In teaching practice she used her vast personal and professional knowledge of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes to inform and enrich the lives of patients she met and cared for throughout her career.

In the year 2000 Cheryl’s advocacy for better health care in general, and for diabetics in particular, took a political turn when she volunteered testimony to the U.S. Congress regarding the proposed abandonment of non-synthetic insulins by the American pharmaceutical industry. Her testimony outlined the history of that decision, its clinical ramifications, and recounted personal experience in discovering that she was strongly allergic to all newly marketed and supposedly “improved” synthetic insulins. Despite strong opposition from industry lobbyists, Congress soon directed the FDA to allow personal importation of non-synthetic insulins by any citizen who, for one reason or another, cannot maintain life and health if denied access to non-synthetic insulin. That exception still stands, having saved many lives that might have otherwise been cut short, improving quality of life for others, and without doubt extending Cheryl’s own life and good health by more than two decades.

Beyond medical career: Cheryl and her loving husband John enjoyed traveling on vacations through eastern Canada and the U.S, attending folk music and ‘60s concerts, and watching comedy and mysteries on PBS. Cheryl was also an exceptional artist, avid photographer, and enthusiastic gardener. She especially loved visiting her parents and large extended family back in Pennsylvania. Though they had no children together, she and John served as “mom and dad” to a lively and affectionate succession of Jersey Wooly and lop- eared rabbits. Cheryl’s boundless affection for “our bunnies” was perfect reflection of her kind and generous heart. She will be forever missed by her sorrowing husband John, all their other family members, and many friends in New England, Pennsylvania, and places beyond.
Private burial will take place at a later date at the Cumberland Valley Memorial Gardens in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Hoffman Funeral Home and Crematory at 2020 W. Trindle Road, Carlisle, PA 17013 ( and Drozdal Funeral Home at 120 Damon Road, Northampton MA 01060 ( ) are assisting the family.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in Cheryl’s name to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (, and/or the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ( ).

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Cheryl D. Smith, please visit our flower store.


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