Cheryl L. Chilen, age 74, of Gilbert, Arizona, formerly of Fairbury, Nebraska, died on November 5, 2017 after a long struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Cheryl, who was the oldest of twelve children, was born on June 6, 1943 at McAllen, Texas to Richard and Gwendolyn (Burton) Darby.
She spent her childhood in Pleasanton, Nebraska where she completed her secondary education.
Subsequent to high school Cheryl graduated from the Lincoln School of Commerce after which she was employed by First Federal Savings and Loan and then at the governor’s office where she worked for Governors Frank B. Morrison and Norbert T. Tiemann.
Cheryl was married to Joseph F. Chilen on October 7, 1967 in Lincoln, Nebraska. To this union two sons, David C. Chilen and Darin M. Chilen, were born.
In 1968 Cheryl and her family moved to Fairbury, Nebraska.
In 1972 Cheryl and Barbara Pfaff established Fairbury’s first preschool which continues in operation today.
After her youngest son entered kindergarten Cheryl was employed at the Fairbury Junior College where she ultimately became the secretary to the president, Dan Gerber.
Cheryl was then employed by Vetter Health Services (Heritage of Fairbury) where her duties included admissions coordinator, human resources and bookkeeper.
Cheryl was active in many organizations including PEO and the Fairbury Mrs. Jaycees where she served as president and was named outstanding Mrs. Jaycee.
After her sister Bette’s death from melanoma, Cheryl organized and spearheaded the Heritage Relay for Life team which sold homemade pies and cakes at auctions. Through the efforts of numerous dedicated volunteers the team donated over $50,000 to cancer research.
Cheryl was preceded in death by her parents and her sister Bette (Darby) Garlow. She is survived by her husband Joseph, her sons David (Liz) Chilen and Darin Chilen, her grandchildren, Cole, Lauren and Benjamin, her siblings Kay Garrelts, Dick (Min) Darby, Karen McCaslin, Ardith Shipley, Ron (Bev) Darby, Dee (Joseph) Fairbanks, Bobbi (Tim) Walker, Jim (Heidi) Darby, Kelly (Carl) Darby-McClure and Jon (Jody) Darby, her sister-in-law Anita (Robin) Lincoln, numerous nieces, nephews and friends.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Fairbury, Nebraska on December 1, 2017 at 10:30 a. m.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the ALS Foundation or the American Cancer Society.