Cheryl Ann Oncken
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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.

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Published in Hartford Courant on Jul. 2, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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28 entries
August 31, 2020
I'm so sorry to learn of Cheryl's passing. I knew her when I worked as Chair of Dermatology at UConn Health and I always valued my conversations with her. She was a very smart and amiable person -- truly always had a smile. I wish strength to her family.
Bruce Strober
Acquaintance
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 6, 2020


There are no words that can express my feelings and grief. I'm so sorry for your loss she was loved by many she was wonderful, kind and gorgeous I have such fond memories of you and I will forever cherish the memories of the times we were able to spend together in the U.S and Egypt. She will be missed by everyone who knew her she left a mark all over the world as a role model.
My deepest condolences to the Bentivegna family on your loss. Jim, you and Cheryl Had a special life and I want you to know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers
Taha Ali Ali
Friend
July 5, 2020
Rachel and Katie, I am so very sorry to hear of your mom's passing. My sincere condolences. I'm positive your mother couldn't be prouder of the women you have become.I hope that over time, the fond memories that you cherish will help to ease your pain. Again, I'm sorry.
Mike DeRitis (Mr. D.)
Teacher
July 5, 2020
Our hearts are with the Bentivegna family. Cheryl and I served on the Christian Education Committee at First Church together. I remember her flipping her hair to the other side as she offered gentle guidance and wisdom. And the smile that filled her face before breaking into laughter. Our love to her family.
Lisa and Steven Lepito
Friend
July 3, 2020
Sincere condolences. Cheryl and I got to know each other in medical school. She was a kind and gentle woman with a wonderful smile and warm heart. ❤
Kay Gruling
Classmate
July 3, 2020
To know Cheryl was to love her.
She exuded kindness and interest with every new encounter. Possessed of both inner and outer beauty, she embraced life willing to learn and to gain a deeper understanding. Her legacy will endure. May she find eternal peace.
Pat Bentivegna
Family
July 3, 2020
To know Cheryl was to love her.
She exuding kindness and interest with everyone new encounter. Possessed of both inner and outer beauty, she embraced life willing to learn and to gain a deeper understanding. Her legacy will endure. May she find eternal peace.
Pat Bentivegna
Family
July 3, 2020
Nancy and I will forever cherish the memories of the times we were able to spend together. The laughs, deep conversations and shared dreams ... gone too soon.
Gus Bentivegna
Family
July 3, 2020
Cheryl was a long-time colleague of mine at UConn Health. She was warm, funny and so very bright- a clinician scientist who contributed important knowledge on the effects of smoking in pregnancy. Cheryl was a wonderful role model for women in medicine, both young and old. I will miss her and feel her absence at the health center, but her memory and smile will endure.
Pam Taxel
Coworker
July 2, 2020
Cheryl was my dear cousin. So many memories of our childhood and family events. One particular memory: I think I was about 10 or 11, so Cheryl would have been 13 or 14 and she was experiencing a growth spurt or trying a sport. She was making homemade eggnog and I had her teach me. For about a year afterward, I drove my mom crazy by making Cheryl's Homemade Eggnog. From that point on, whatever the significance, I admired my big cousin and the siblings she had.
Grief can be so hard, but our special memories help us cope. Cheryl will live on as special memories in the hearts of everyone who was fortunate enough to meet her.
Sharon Kaufman
Family
July 2, 2020
May God grant your family peace and guidance for now during this difficult time and for the future to come.

Old Irish Prayer:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Amen
Jim Britton
Classmate
July 2, 2020
Cheryl was my neighbor, classmate, and friend when we were girls in Durand, Wisconsin. I always loved going to her house; her whole family was so welcoming. Though we didnt stay connected as adults, I will always treasure those childhood memories of playing together in our neighborhood.
Mary Louise Collins (Weishapple)
Friend
July 2, 2020
My deepest condolences to the Bentivegna family on your loss. Jim, you and Cheryl Had a special life. Im praying that your memories will comfort you and your daughters.
Kathy McNamara
Friend
July 2, 2020
One of the greatest of our class of 80 at Durand High School! I remember a play she was in and she gave it her all!! Sounds like her life was exactly the same! RIP Thoughts and prayers for the family from a classmate!
Anita Haskins
Classmate
July 2, 2020
Heartbreaking - My Prayers and Thoughts go out to the Family
Such a wonderful Person and will be missed
Walter Hovland
Classmate
July 2, 2020
Im so sorry for your loss. I remember Cheryl coming over to our house to play with my sister Martha. She was a beautiful person.
Maureen Hurlburt Krings
Friend
July 2, 2020
Very nice person. I met her when I was a freshman in high school in band she sat next to me for two years. We had a blast! Great sense of humor, we were constantly ribbing with each other. Most of all I remember how much she taught me about playing music. Spectacular person

My condolences goes out to her sister Pam and the rest of the family. Sorry for your loss

Patrick Laschinger
Patrick Laschinger
Friend
July 2, 2020
As a younger cousin to Cheryl. I was always in awe of her. I admired her and her accomplishments. What a beautiful person..
Alice Lawrence Retrum
Family
July 2, 2020
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Lynne Oncken
July 2, 2020
An amazing human being. Dr. Oncken will be greatly missed!! My deepest condolences to the family.

Rocio Chang
Coworker
July 1, 2020
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Michele Correnti
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