Cheryl (Cheri) Champion
Accomplished Golfer, Research Scientist
Cheryl “Cheri” Champion of Greensboro, Georgia passed away on November 22, 2019 at the age of 63. She was born in Pomona, California. Cheri was the beloved partner of April Hartness, devoted daughter of the late Normandie Johnson Crates and Jesse Earl Champion of Illinois and Alabama and granddaughter of the late Harold R. Johnson and Frieda Elizabeth Diesing of Missouri and Illinois.
Cheri was a member of the class of 1974 at Ensley High School in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1982, she graduated Cum Laude from California Polytechnic University, Pomona in Pomona, California with a BS in Microbiology. She completed her doctorate in 1990 with a PhD. in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
For 30 years, Cheri was a respected and accomplished research scientist at UCLA and the National Institute of Health working in molecular biology to develop vaccines for Lyme disease and syphilis. She holds patents in the US Patent Office for successfully cloning a gene in the organism that causes Lyme disease and a second patent for her work in Immunology.
Cheri retired at age 56 with her partner and they devoted themselves to their love for each other and their shared passion for golf. Golf brought her so much joy and she lived her life fully through the experience of golf and the many friends she made on and off the course. Cheri was an accomplished golfer and golf club maker. She delighted in making golf clubs and endlessly tinkering with how to make a golf club better. Often she would declare that her clubs were now “perfect for me in every way”. Yet, within a few rounds of golf, she would say, “I wonder if that new shaft or club head would be good for me” and off she would go to make the change.
Cheri turned down an offer to play golf in college so that she could pursue her doctorate. She always wondered if she “had the right golfing stuff” to play at that level. Indeed she did. After retiring and taking up golf with a passion she won numerous tournaments including multiple Club and Senior Club Championships, Member-Member and various other tournaments. She was a fierce and courageous competitor with a sense of gracious sportsmanship. However, few people knew how courageous Cheri really was for she played the best golf of her life while living with a permanent colostomy and knowing her cancer had spread. In her final two years of life she and April won the 2018 Member-Member Low Gross Championship and she won the 2018 Senior Club Championship in a playoff. She always hoped that she could be an inspiration to people who face serious health challenges in their life.
Cheri was a passionate and tenderhearted animal lover. She loved sitting on the sun-porch in the early mornings, sipping green tea and watching the array of wildlife go by. More than once when driving they would have to hit the brakes to come to a screeching halt so that Cheri could help a turtle cross the road safely. Most of all Cheri adored their dear cats. There was Scooter, Pumpkin, Alex, Sam and Bella who all lived to be 18-21 years old. Just five months ago she adopted Little AJ from the local Humane Society. As she said, “He needs us and we need him”.
Cheri is survived by her beloved life partner of 18 years, April Hartness and their beloved cat, AJ. She is also survived by her sister Tami Crates Warner and by her uncle Harold “Bud” Johnson (and wife Connie), her aunt Janet Burton and by nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her aunts Linda Berger and Judith Bradshaw and by her uncle Thomas Johnson.
A service and reception to Celebrate Cheri’s Life will be held on January 6, 2020, 1:00 p.m. at the Reynolds Lake Club, 1020 Lake Club Drive, Greensboro, GA. Inform security at the gate you are attending the Cheri Champion Celebration.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorial donations in Cheri’s name to Oconee Regional Humane Society (ORHS), 1020 Park Avenue, Ste 101, Greensboro, GA 30642. www.orhspets.org. McCommons Funeral Home, 109 W. Broad St., Greensboro, GA, (706) 453-2626, is in charge of arrangements. Visit us at www.mccommonsfuneralhome.com to sign the online guest register.
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