Dr. Cheryl Ann Oncken of Avon, Connecticut passed away on July 1, 2020. Though her will and mind never succumbed, her body lost the battle to cancer. She was very thankful for all of the healthcare professionals who helped her through her illness. She was the beloved wife of the Honorable James Bentivegna, and mother to their cherished children, Rachel and Kathryn (Katie) Bentivegna, of whom they could not be more proud. She was predeceased by her loving parents, George and Barbara Oncken of Wisconsin and Arizona. She leaves behind her sisters and best friends, Debora (Debbie) Olson of Brookfield, Wisconsin and Pamela (Pam) Maguire of Toronto, Canada, and their wonderful families. She was forever grateful to have her stepmother, Jo Ellen Mulder of Germantown, Wisconsin, as part of her life. She was equally loved by her mother-in-law, Patricia Bentivegna of Tinton Falls, New Jersey, and her sister-in-laws, Maria Bentivegna of Red Bank, New Jersey and Christine Baily and her family of Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, and their many relatives. A Midwest farm girl at heart, who through hard work, determination, and intelligence, became a physician, international research expert in smoking cessation in pregnancy, full-tenured professor, and, finally, the Chair of the Department of Medicine at UConn Health, where she worked for over twenty-five years. She approached her work with a caring heart. She was very grateful to Dr. Bruce Liang and Dr. Andrew Agwunobi for entrusting her with those leadership responsibilities. As Chair, she tried her best to treat everyone with fairness, improve patient care and advance science. She truly valued the diverse group of friends and colleagues who she met throughout her life. Her beauty and beaming smile continue to illuminate the faces of her daughters. She liked to garden and interior decorate, and her love of travel, fashion and shopping were often combined in her trips throughout all the continents except one, Antarctica, which was on her To Do list. She will forever be missed by her family and close friends, but they will be comforted by knowing how much she loved them and the great memories they share. She will always be remembered for her sense of humor, loving nature, acceptance of others, and absent-minded-professor tendencies. Due to the COVID concerns, burial arrangements will be private. A memorial will be held in the future when those concerns are no longer an obstacle to gathering her family, friends and colleagues together to celebrate her life. Donations in her name may be made to the UConn Foundation for the benefit of clinical medicine research.
Published in Hartford Courant on Jul. 2, 2020.