Celebrating the life of Cheryl Simmons(1946-2024)

With hearts full of memories and love, we celebrate our mother Cheryl Simmons, a remarkable woman who lived a vibrant and impactful life. She was a magnificent mother, a wonderful grandmother, a devoted wife, and an extraordinary human being. We will always cherish her, embrace her spirit of adventure and her incredible dedication to family.

Cheryl, the daughter of Mary Rose and Walter Eugene Dronenberg, was delivered by her midwife grandmother on October 21, 1946, in Odell, Illinois. She passed on Sunday, January 14, 2024, at the age of 77, leaving behind a legacy filled with life-lessons of integrity, determination, resilience, and love.
A graduate of Dwight High School in 1964, Cheryl had a dream of making a difference and she pursued it relentlessly. She earned her nursing degree from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in 1967 and was recruited to be the inaugural director of nursing at Continental Manor Nursing Home in Dwight. Later she went on to teach and hold various Directorial and Vice Presidential roles at OSF Saint James Hospital in Pontiac, Illinois.

In her free time, she was busy spoiling her grandchildren, working on sewing projects, and creating meticulous and beautifully curated scrapbooks. She found joy in the swing of a golf club and was very proud to be the first female board member at the Dwight Country Club. She and her husband Ron also set sail on adventures, with good friends, across the seas, exploring the wonders of Alaska, the mysteries of Russia, and the charms of Europe.
In 2008, Cheryl hung up her nurse’s cap and split her time between Dwight and Sun City West, Arizona.

Her legacy lives on through her children, Drew Louis of San Diego, CA, and Michelle Schmit (husband Jay), and her cherished grandchildren: Cross, Maverick, and Katya Louis, and Courtney Schmit. She is also survived by her brother Joseph Zappa of Show low Arizona, and his children, niece Ashley and nephew John.

Cheryl’s indomitable spirit set a powerful example of work ethic, breaking barriers, and relentless self-improvement. She taught the value of a day well spent, a challenge well met, and a life well lived.

Michelle and Drew continue these traditions in several ways. Michelle continued her education long after earning her teaching credentials. She attended Illinois State University obtaining a Master degree in Reading. Michelle is also a National Board certified teacher. Drew, a serial entrepreneur, will become an Alumni of Harvard Business School in the fall of 2024.

Cheryl was predeceased by her husband Ron (2023), her parents Walter Eugene Dronenberg and Mary Rose Zappa, her step-father Steve Zappa and a brother Johnny Zappa.

Cremation rites have been accorded, honoring Cheryl’s wish for simplicity and peace; no public services will be held. Memorial donations can be made to the American Cancer Society.

Condolences and notes of encouragement can be sent to Michelle Schmit 446 N Charles Street Cortland IL 60112 and she will share them with the family.