Mona B. Cheetham, age 100, passed away Friday, March 3, 2023. She was born in Elyria, Ohio on Wednesday, May 3, 1922. Although she grew up in Ohio, she lived in many places: Washington DC, Florida, New Jersey, Rio De Janeiro, Montana, and since 2005, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Growing up in Ohio during the great depression she delivered newspapers and won 4-H sewing awards. As a youngster she enjoyed dancing in a pink dress which caused her grandfather to give her the nickname "Pinky" which stuck with her throughout her life. She was elegant in her youth and into adulthood she always looked like a movie star.
During WWII she trained to be a Registered Nurse for the Women's Army Corps at St Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington DC. Although the war ended before she completed her training, she continued a life-long career as a Registered Nurse until she was 80 years old. Her nursing career included working in hospitals, nursing homes, home health and in university clinics. She held positions as both a staff nurse and later as a head nurse. When talking to coworkers at one of the hospitals where she worked, the nurses and physicians all spoke of how she was a true lady in manner and in grace. They described her as someone they could go to because of her knowledge and experience. She was a respected professional nurse in every way throughout her career.
While in nursing school at St Elizabeth’s she met and fell in love with a Navy medic, William J. Bayless whom she married. After WWII, Mona and Bill moved to Florida where Mona worked as a nurse and Bill worked in his family's construction business in the Tampa Bay area. Later Mona worked at the University of Florida clinic in Gainesville while Bill completed his degree in Civil Engineering. While living in Florida, Mona and Bill had three children, Sylvia, Robert, and Jean. After Bill graduated, the family moved to New Jersey where they had a fourth child, Elizabeth. In 1960 Bill's work took the family to Brazil where they lived in Rio de Janeiro for a year after which they returned to New Jersey. On Tuesday, November 27, 1962, Mona was widowed when Bill died in an airplane crash in South America.
Several years later Mona met, fell in love with and married a widower, John R. Cheetham. With John, Mona gained a stepson Ed, and had another child, Randy. Mona cared for her large blended family of 6 children while continuing to work as nurse in central New Jersey while she and John operated a small household goods store. In 1978, Mona, John, and Randy moved to Polson, Montana to be close to her aging parents and her brother and his family. While in Montana, she continued to work as a nurse and managed an apartment complex with her husband John. She also volunteered at the town library where she became proficient on how to bind books. Mona was later recognized for her service with a plaque in the library. Mona was also very involved in her church in Montana where she became deaconess in her church.
In her spare time, Mona enjoyed sewing clothes, quilts, and more. She also enjoyed preparing food and it was always a special treat to receive her jams as gifts. Mona also had a green thumb and cultivated African violets which she then sold to a local nursery. She loved to read and do crossword puzzles and almost always had a book or crossword puzzle nearby. Mona loved to play any card games where skill and luck were needed. In her 40's she learned to play golf and soon found a lifetime love for the game of golf.
When Mona smiled her eyes twinkled, and she had a very infectious laugh and a dry sense of humor. She entertained us with stories of her youth, and family members. It is her smile, humor and laughter that we will miss the most, luckily, we will have that memory ingrained in our hearts forever.
Mona was preceded in death by her husbands, William J. Bayless and John R. Cheetham (Monday, July 15, 1985, from ALS); her father, Harry L. Shryock; her mother, Catherine Shryock; her brother, Harry Lee Shryock; and his wife, Dee Shryock. Mona was also preceded in death by her two sons, Robert L. Bayless and Edgar R. Cheetham; her son-in-law, Donald F. Nuttting; her daughter-in- law, Barbara Harding Bayless and her daughter-in-law, Marsha Garfinkle Bayless.
Mona is survived by her daughters, Sylvia Nutting, Jean Merrill; and her husband, Bruce Merrill, Elizabeth Phelan; and Mona's son, Randall Cheetham and his fiancée Joan Gilewski; and her daughter-in-law, Joan Cheetham. She is also survived by nine grandchildren: Rachel, Kristen, David, Erica, Leigh, Daniel, Donald, Michael, Matthew and their spouses and eleven great-grandchildren. She was known to all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as Mighty Mona! Mona is also survived by three nephews and two nieces and their families by her brother, Harry Lee Shryock. Mona is also survived by her brother- in- law, Robert P. Bayless and his wife Emily Bayless and their two daughters and their families.
We love you, Mighty Mona!
We would like to acknowledge and give special thanks to the Staff of Presbyterian Complete Care, and to the Visiting Angel's Team for their support and loving care that eased her transition as she passed.
A Celebration of her Life Memorial will be held Friday, June 2, 2023, at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, 7999 Wyoming Blvd NE in Albuquerque, NM at 1:30 pm.
In Lieu of flowers you can donate in Mona's name to the Alzheimer's association at www.alz.org or to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association at www.als.org or to a charity of your choice. Thank you.