Cheryl (Cherri) Ranee Johnson
Wed, 11/30/2016 - 5:00am
A celebration of Cherri’s life and “graduation” will be held Friday, December 23rd at 3:30 p.m. at the United Church of Christ, 107 N. Merrill St., Chamberlain, SD. Wear festive, no black!
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made out to the Chamberlain United Church of Christ -- Missions outreach.
Volunteer, advocate, faithful friend, loving Mom and wife, Cheryl (Cherri) Ranee Johnson was affectionately known by literally hundreds of refugees and co-volunteers as “goodwill on wheels” or “Mom Cherri.” Cherri came to this life on October 5th 1937, the daughter of Dale and Mayvis Zea in Sioux Falls SD. After five years of battling cancer and renal failure, she graduated to be with her Lord on Thursday, November 24th, at home with family holding Cherri’s hands as she listened to their words of love and support.
Cherri devoted her life to helping others. Be it opening their home to welcome cancer patients needing accommodations during radiation treatment, gathering truckloads of toys for refugee children and native children on the Pine Ridge Reservation, to assembling clothes, jobs and housing for refugees as they literally stepped off the plane, she served those in need with a listening ear and an encouraging (and often opinionated) voice that expressed care and dignity for all people.
As noted, by bringing clothing, extending hospitality and offering her friendship, she helped ease refugees transition to the United States. LSS refugee and immigration programs resettled 350 – 400 refugees every year. Cherri helped the same number of refugees. She has the challenging community volunteer role because of the questions about immigrants that are as old as the U.S. itself. She is a wonderful ambassador of love and respect.
She helped refugees who have nothing when they arrive here, to become citizens and feel they have some self worth. Cherri helped her community to grow spiritually and learn about other cultures and to be tolerant of unfamiliar people and ideas. Many of the refugees come with limited English but Cherri’s humanity does not need the words of explanation...
Excerpt from LSS nomination of Cherri for Spirit of Dakota Society.
“For her contributions Cherri received numerous awards including the Daily Points of Light Award, the President’s Service Award, the LSS Refugee Programs Lifetime Service Award, the JC Penney Golden Rule Award, the Spirit of Dakota Award, and the LSS Salt of the Earth Award.”
She is survived by her husband and biggest supporter Doug Johnson of Oacoma SD, her brother Rick (Pam) Zea of Twin Falls ID, and sister Darci (Mike) Wells of Wilmington NC, as well as her son Jeff (Gail) Larson of Vashon Island WA, Tammy Evert of Ogallala NB, Jim Larson of Hill City SD, Michael Johnson of Rochester MN, Thomas Madut of Mitchell SD, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.