Cover photo for Marilou Cheff's Obituary
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1928 Marilou 2016

Marilou Cheff

August 5, 1928 — October 7, 2016

Marilou Foster Cheff , left us peacefully on Friday, October 7, 2016 at the age of 88.

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan the oldest child of the late Harold and Bernadette (McLernan) Foster. It was with her parents support and encouragement that she graduated from the University of Detroit with a Bachelor’s degree and earned a Masters through Wayne State University. Marilou was a dedicated teacher having taught for over three decades in Detroit Public Schools and was a hero to the children in her classroom.

A champion of labor union rights, she volunteered her time as an active member of the Detroit Federation of Teachers Executive Board and the Michigan Federation of Teachers.  She was a founding member of the National Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) and tirelessly worked as an Administrative Assistant to her best friend and companion Olga M. Madar.  She spent 10 years as president of the Metro-Detroit CLUW chapter leading with her strength, dedication and unbending commitment to fairness and justice.  She was also the American Federation of Teachers Representative to CLUW and was on the AFT’s Women’s Rights Committee.

Marilou tirelessly advocated for women's rights and fought hard for the Equal Rights Amendment. She received several awards over the years for accomplishments. During Michigan’s 2014 Women's History Month Celebration, she was declared to be a trailblazer, a “Warrior for Women's Rights” and a "Woman of Distinction.”

A loving big sister to four siblings, she was predeceased by brother Robert (Norma) Foster and sister Janet Davenport. She is survived by Patricia (Thomas) Klebba and Eleanor (Kent) Culpert. She was predeceased by her former husband and cherished friend, Charles Ovila Cheff.  A devoted mother to seven children; Stephen (Beverly) Cheff of Dallas Tx, Anne (Tony) Jablonski of Missoula MT, Joseph (Stephanie) Cheff of Edinberg VA, Kevin (Bob Smallwood) Cheff of Denver CO, Francis (Sharon) Cheff of Austin TX, Sean Cheff of Ronan MT, Robert (Tanya) Cheff of Allentown NJ. A proud grandmother to 12; Sara (Eric) Nelson, Gillian (Charles) Holcomb, Damion (Jami) Jablonski, Ryan (Ashlee) Cheff, Ali, Levi, Jacqueline, Alexander, Victoria, Larissa, Marie and Elizabeth. An especially proud great-grandma to five: Benjamin, Vivienne, Megan and Kenyon and her step-great granddaughter Aspen (Luke) Lindeman. Marilou had a great number of wonderful nieces and nephews around the world who know her infectious laugh and steadfast love.

Her family wishes to thank the staff at St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula for their exceptional compassion and loving care of Mom throughout the years and particularly to the physicians and Comfort Care medical staff during her final days.

Shrider-Thompson Funeral Home in Ronan, Montana has provided cremation services.  A Celebration of Life will be held in the summer of 2017, date to be announced.

Donations in Marilou’s name may be made to the YWCA of Missoula, 1130 W Broadway St. Missoula, MT 59802, whose mission matches hers in their tireless efforts towards eliminating racism and empowering women.

It’s been said that “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”  Marilou will be missed here on earth but the ripples of her life will continue to extend for years to come.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Marilou Cheff, please visit our flower store.

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