Cheryll Hartwigsen

1 entry
  • "With sympathy to the family as a long ago friend of Cheryll..."
    - Patrick Walter
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Cheryll Bolinger Hartwigsen

Aka "Mrs. Hart"

Cheryll Bolinger Hartwigsen passed away on Thanksgiving Day 2017 at UNMH. She died from the ravages and complications of having had MS for 25 years.

She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Christian C "Neil" Hartwigsen; her daughter Kristen Hartwigsen of Portland, OR, and her son Christian J "CJ" Hartwigsen of Albuquerque. She is also survived by her five sisters and brothers and their spouses and families of Ohio, Michigan and South Carolina.

Cheryll was born to John and Laura Bolinger on September 18, 1945 in Fresno, CA while John was in the Army Air Corps waiting to be deployed to the Pacific Theater of WWII. The war ended before his deployment so he took Laura and Cheryll home to southeastern Ohio. Over time the family grew to 6 children and had a profound positive effect on the little town of Beverly, Ohio.

Cheryll was an excellent student in a good school system and graduated salutatorian of her class from Fort Frye HS in 1963. She then attended Capital University in Columbus, Ohio intending to become a music teacher. However she & Neil met during the summer of 1963 & married in 1965. They came to UNM where she changed her major to elementary education, graduating in 1967. She subsequently earned a master's degree in education also from UNM.

She taught in the APS, at Sunset Mesa and at the Congregational Preschool before becoming a stay-at-home mom while her 2 children were young. She returned to part-time work in 1984 as the first librarian of the Bosque Farms Public Library. She took that library from a closet-full of boxes of books to a full service library during the next 8 years, while also becoming a certified librarian. She then moved to the Los Lunas Public Schools as the librarian at both Ann Parish and Tome Elementary Schools. When the Valencia Elementary School opened she moved there at the invitation of the principal. She had been "district leader" for Los Lunas' 13 libraries, publishing their Library Curriculum. Her pet project with the PTC has landscaped Valencia and built its playground. As a longtime member of NMLA's Advocacy for School Libraries SIG, she helped develop the Reading & Information Literacy Standards & Benchmarks template, powerfully impacting children far beyond her adoring community. Her students knew her as "Mrs. Hart". She retired from the schools in 2008.

Cheryll was diagnosed with progressive MS in 1992. She never let her disease define her. She took charge of her life and accomplished a great deal over the next 25 years until her death. Cheryll impacted the lives of many people both by setting an example of not being a victim of her disease as well as her encouragement and support of others. Having no natural grandchildren of her own, she "adopted" 5 girls of a family that had no natural grandmother. These girls were her jewels. Cheryll took them to shows at Popejoy Hall and taught them "grandma" things like pie baking as well as broadening and extending their educations. Her encouragement and generosity included grown women as well.

Cheryll's son CJ wrote: "Yesterday morning was a new experience for me. For the first time in my life, I woke up to a world where I didn't have a Mom. My mother, Cheryll, lost her 25-year battle with multiple sclerosis early Thursday morning. It is heartbreaking.

My mother could be a difficult woman. She was obstinate as a bull and could be very demanding. If she didn't like something you were doing, she would not hesitate to tell you exactly what she thought.

Mom was also very kind. She spent most of her life caring for other people. She especially loved young children & helping them grow. She was devoted to her family & sacrificed tremendously to care for us.

My mother had a personal strength that I have never seen in another human being. When she met difficulty...and that includes being diagnosed with a severely debilitating disease… she'd take her powered wheelchair and bulldoze right over the top of it. If you were with her, you'd quickly forget that she was a little old lady in a wheelchair. She was the boss and she was going to make it happen. She had no time for excuses, and that included her own.

Mom loved to read. She loved music and theater. She had a gift with gardening and cooking. She loved watching birds and caring for her dogs. She loved her house and building it into a home. She believed in education so strongly that she personally helped finance the education of children that weren't her own.

Mom did not believe in wasting time. She pushed hard every day of her life, even when she really needed to rest. She used every single day she was given.

Thank you, Mom, for being you. Thank you for raising me. And thank you for being my friend. I wish so badly I had one more day."

Cheryll will be missed by many. There will be a Celebration of Life to be announced later.

Published in Albuquerque Journal on Dec. 10, 2017