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Remembering Cherylee Wegman-Craig

With the recent passing of the beloved Wasco community activist Cherylee R. Wegman-Craig, many friends remembered her with kind words and shared memories of working with and knowing her in various capacities.

Petra Rueda, former president of the Wasco Union Elementary School District board, knew Cherylee for almost 30 years and got close to her recently, working alongside her on the school board.

"She was a very nice, respectful woman and had a lot of knowledge to share with her experience," she said.

"Cherylee was very strong in her faith, very personable, hospitable, always had a smile on her face and happy. She would talk to anybody and was friendly."

he most vivid memory was that "She always had a strong opinion; if you asked, she would tell you her opinion."

WUESD superintendent Brad Maberry, who knew her for 10 years, commented on the type of public servant she was, "She was an extremely dedicated professional and had the best interest for the district and the community. In all my dealings with her, that was her primary focus. She was in it for the right reasons: the betterment of our kids and community."

He said he had fond memories of her, "Just the energy that she brought to our meetings. She had a good but dry sense of humor and was just somebody you could have a casual conversation with just as easily as a professional conversation. She was able to switch those gears and was just someone you could talk to."

Maberry highlighted that she had the respect of her peers. "With my relationship with her as a board member before her passing, she was elected as our president of the board for this upcoming school year, which shows that even with her failing health, she was committed to serving as president of the board and was thought of well enough to have been voted into that position by her peers."

Cherylee was an active member of the Wasco Elks Lodge and spent much time with that organization. Jerry Bozarth was a fellow member who had known her since the 1960s. "Her dedication was at a high level; whatever she was doing, she was dedicated. Anything she put her mind on, she made sure she got it done. Over the years knowing her, she was always a special person. She didn't know any enemies. She was always good to all of us. And she will be deeply missed by this whole city of Wasco."

Oscar Luna, WUESD assistant superintendent, was a close acquaintance for over 10 years and said Cherylee was an unsung hero and a true advocate for the Wasco community.

He said her leadership style was unique. "She was very consequential in her leadership because she was not afraid to do what was best for the community at all times regardless of the consequences, opinions or the pushback."

Luna added that she had qualities that made her effective as a community activist.

"She was community-centered. She had a true passion for the community of Wasco, which was second to none."

Cherylee shared her love of reading with Luna. "She and I exchanged books. In the last couple of years, she would give me books about leadership, faith-based and general meaningful life books. That was something I enjoyed about her."

He said of her legacy, "She would always say 'Don't forget always to do what is best for the students and our community.' She would remind me that that should be the nucleus of our work."

WUESD assistant superintendent Danny Arrellano shared, "Apart from being my boss as a board member, Cherylee was a longtime mentor and friend. I have known her and her family for over 30 years. She was an exceptional woman who contributed greatly to the success of the board. She was known for being sweet and kind and loved a good laugh, but she was also a straight shooter and told you what she thought about you. That's what I admired most about her. Her leadership and vision will be greatly missed, and her legacy will continue to inspire those who knew her. She was truly a remarkable person, and her presence will be deeply missed."

Kern County Supervisors David Couch expressed his regards, "She was smart, funny and a hard worker. She really cared for the people of Wasco. The people of Wasco lost a good friend."

Danny Espitia was another longtime friend of Cherylee of over 40 years, first because of church.

"Then I worked for her on her lawn service business for a couple of years on weekends to make extra money. I took off to college, and we stayed in contact, but I still came home on the weekends and helped her. Then we became better friends working as City Council members."

He said she was very honest. "She told you how it is. If it was black and white, that was how it was supposed to be."

"She was a giving person, willing to do extra for friends, family, and especially the community. She was just involved and wanted Wasco to be the best it could be."

Espitia said she spoke her mind. "If you were in the wrong, she would tell you and explain to you why you were wrong. And on the flip side, if you were right, she would commend you."

They were really close, he said. "When I speak of her, I get choked up. I have a lot of fond memories. There are pages I could write of her. She had a good sense of humor and was always fun to be around."

He said one of his best stories about her was went she went on a lobbying trip. "Going to Sacramento and her working with legislators, wanting to bring back grants and information that would be in the best interest of our community."

When asked how he thought she would like to be remembered, he said, "There are too many. Like how she always rode around in her pink trucks when she had her lawn service or the countless hours she put in as a council member or as the first female mayor of Wasco. She will be greatly missed."

 

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