Cheryl Marie LeRoux was born August 8th, 1960 in Seattle Washington. For 36 years she flew through life, pontificating, gesticulating, and punctuating her stories with a laughter at her own jokes, like some female Pee-Wee Herman, a non-stop dervish of ideas, opinions, and pronouncements. This page is attempt to preserve a fragment of what she meant to those who loved her, those who were curious about her, and hell, even those with whom she locked horns.

(Note: I have added scans from a book created for Cheryl's neice, LeRoux Matau. This is probably the best I can do at recreating Cheryl's personality. You can read it here.)

This is not the most important part, but it is the part we must get out of the way: LeRoux died August 25th, 1996, 20 days after her 36th birthday and 9 years after she first engaged her battle with breast cancer. To get to the more delightful parts of her life, we must not be coy and postpone an honest accounting of just how terrible it was for those who loved her. I do not pretend to understand the many trials and tragedies of others, so many of whom have been less fornate than I. But neither can they, who did not know LeROux , quite understand what it was like to lose this woman, this dervish, this unique whirlwind of creativivity and independence. To do so would probably require hugging her in her hospice bed, and feeling her arms trying and falling, trying and falling, trying to wrap around you but too weak to even reach that now. It would probably require your presence in those nights when you slept in the a chair beside her bed, your arm upon her, and being awoken by a hospice volunteer with the news her pain had lead her to hope would happen months ago, "Sir....Cheryl has died." To understand it, you may need to know what it is like to be the person she loved most in the world (and that you loved most, in kind), and to to watch her continually trying to hide her daily pain from you. You might need to see her coming back from the bathroom in a nice restaurant with her eyes watering, trying to keep you from noticing that she can't keep this food down better than any other of the past several months; or you might need to notice the tear rolling down from behind her sunglasses at the company picnic, realizing this was because she knew our plans to have children could now never come true; or you might need to be there at one of the rare breakdowns when she admitted her fears to you, in a laconic, plaintive aside. "I don't want to die Pete. I want to stay here with you."

With this imposed upon you at the start, if you remain with me, we can cover the really important parts -- that is, just how great it was to be around LeROux while she was here.

Cheryl's parents say she was born talking, and she rarely let up, often slowly mumbling as she finally drifted off to sleep, trying to get a few more things out. And it didn't stop there -- she would talk loudly in her sleep, and when I was not too out of it to remember, I'd collect things she said in her Sleep Quotes File.

During her childhood, Cheryl also lived in upscale Orange County California and rustic Hastings, Michigan, and deeply disliked both of them. When she graduated from Michigan State University, she moved back to Seattle, following her friend Mimi. She has a unique sense of style and liked alternative music before it was popular. She overcame early obstacles in her career by just working harder.

From the begining, Cheryl looked at the world differently.

I first met Cheryl LeRoux Friday Jan. 22, 1988. She and Mimi were standing in line for the Sonic Youth & Live Skull show at the Central tavern. My roommate Tom knew Cheryl and we cut in line with them. After the show, Tom invited Cheryl out for some late food at the 13 Coins. I fell asleep in the booth.

A few nights later, I ran into Cheryl again at a show at the Scoundrel's Lair. I apologized for the previous night, and we had a lot of fun talking. We shared a lot of tastes, including underground clubs and German industrial bands. She lit up the room, talking fast, and laughing loudly at her own jokes, like a cute, female Pee Wee Herman.

Cheryl and I fell in love. Neither of us expected to ever find someone so right for us. We bought a house together in April 1989 and were married May 19th, 1990.

From early on, I refered to her primarily as "LeRoux" -- to the extend that some of my long time friends and acquaintances didn't know her first name was Cheryl. She called me "Peter" at first, then almost exclusively "Pete" after an incident carrying a Christmas tree into our apartment when she was getting crushed and said in her best blue collar worker voice, "I'm eatin' needles back here, Pete."

When my brother John moved to Seattle and stayed with us, she called us "Big Spud" and "Little Spud." Only the latter stuck, and John is known primarily as "Spud" to this day. (When he did something particularly swell for LeRoux he would be "Spuddy My Buddy.")

One of my favorite things about LeRoux was how effusive she was about things she liked. When she got a present or something she liked, she wouldn't just say it was nice, she'd exlaim, "Oh I LOVE, LOVE LOVE it!" When she went into a furniture store to show me the stuffed chairs she wanted, she didn't just point to them, she ran in and hugged them. When she won a silly video game against me, she'd stand up, yell "Woooooooooo hoooooo!" and do a little victory dance. This was pretty near the opposite of how I usually express myself, and I began to enjoy life much more and primarily through anticipating and watching her reactions.

LeRoux's friends, relatives, and co-workers couldn't help but pick up her pet phrases. She was always busy -- her small hands always working away at her latest project or gesticulating wildly as she told you her latest idea or story. She commonly refered to her ideas humbly as "strokes of pure genius," and punctuated her arguments with a conclusive "And there you have it." Then suddenly she'd stop talking mid-sentence, and her eyes would roll up, as she contemplated some new stroke of pure genious idea. I loved how she'd be so focused on her latest project, often sitting pigeon-toed with her tongue sticking slightly out the side of her mouth. And every one of her recipes' titles began with "LeRoux's World Famous..." (e.g. "LeRoux's World Famous If You Can't Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen spaghetti"). And when she called her friends on the phone she'd announce, "Hi it's me Cheryl LeRoux!" -- as if it was the most exciting and wonderful thing you could ever hope for.

And she was always dancing. If she heard music she liked -- rockabilly or industrial, say -- she'd start dancing no matter where she was. Every morning as she got dressed she would be dancing to whatever song she was singing in her head (if she wasn't dancing while she got dressed, I'd know she was in a lot of pain that morning).

We both loved setting up personal little rituals between the two of us. We had a secred handshake and secret symbols (e.g. flashing two fingers, two fingers again, and then three fingers was "VVW" -- or you're being "Very Very Weird"). She would announce her thoughts with a statement demanding attention, such as, "I have a wait, it's a statement...." Then she'd pause until I responded, "What's your statement, LeRoux?" On Sunday mornings when she awoke, she'd snap her fingers and say "Sections..." -- a signal that I was to hand over her sections of the Sunday paper, which we split like Jack Sprat and his wife, me taking the news, sports, and business, her the entertainment, fashion, and special sections.

LeRoux was not short on nerve. When she decided to try to sell some of her artwork, she took her print ("Manhole Covers of Seattle") to galleries around town including the Seattle Art Museum and told them she thought they ought to hang it. And she had a temper. At one of her company Christmas parties a co-worker introduced me to her husband, then pointed across the way to LeRoux. "She's the short, pretty one," she told him, "and she is a firebrand." When she thought someone was being mean or unfair, LeRoux let them have it.

She was also a sucker for underdogs. She'd feel terrible for big, dumb guys getting picked on in movies, or people being treated badly because they belonged to a certain group. I might be carrying on, giving some dime-store psychological criticism of bigotry, and she cut through my meandering arguments with stark simplicity -- "It's mean," she would say.

LeRoux loved rollerskating, and stuck with the classic four-wheelers while the roller-blades took over. Her friends would only go with only if she promised "not to go 100 miles per hour" and she'd get herself into trouble trying to do her fancy moves the first day skating after some long dry spell forced by one of her treatments. I remember sitting in our apartment near Green Lake on her first day out, after cautioning her to take it easy, but she'd come in repeatedly all scraped up, put on some band-aids and head back out. Once at her parents house in Phoenix, she took off skating down the street and was back in 10 minutes. "Pete," she said, "can you take my skates off? I think I broke my arm" -- and she was right. Her bones grew more brittle with the disease. When her doctor asked her how she cracked some ribs, she told him she it was while doing a 360. The doctor asked what that meant, and because she was LeRoux, she couldn't just tell him, she had to stand up and show him how you execute a 360 degree jump while skating. LeRoux asked the oncologists if this king of problem was uncommon among people in her condition, and the doctor told her, "Cheryl, most people with stage IV cancer DON'T DO 360s."

Portrait of LeRoux, done in Rome
For larger view, click here.

My favorite photo of LeRoux

LeRoux's tastes were idiosyncratic and emphatic. She had her favorite cheese shop and seafood stand in Pike Place market, her favorite buildings and architectual features in Seattle, and a group of friends from an unusually broad spectrum of personalities. In very rare instances she'd go completely speechless -- e.g. if a '57 T-Bird drove by, or when she first stepped into "Beads Galore" after she'd taken up beading.

More to come...