In Character: Cheri McDaniel

Cheri McDaniel… a person of character


CONSIDERING, at age 86 she has published her memoirs, He Lays The Stones For Our Steps, an inspirational chronicle of her life starting as a child during the Great Depression to her days now spent at St. James Place Retirement Community. The appendix details her personal gardens over the past seven decades.

CONSIDERING, she grew up in dire poverty in rural Union Parish. When she was sent to Chicago at age 15 to represent Louisiana in 4-H, she had never before used a telephone or had electricity or plumbing. She chose to go to LSU for college to meet more people and be exposed to more things. “Louisiana Tech was too close to my loneliness.”

CONSIDERING, she became a homebuilder at age 30—the only woman at the time in Baton Rouge in new construction. It was a man’s world, but she tackled it with gusto. “I never studied drafting, architecture or interior design but I could see a building in my mind before it was built.” She built homes for the next 30 years.

CONSIDERING, with daughter Susan Roland she launched Fireside Antiques in 1982—the first European antiques dealer in the city. She continued her contracting business out of an office in the antiques store until 1986, when Susan became pregnant with quadruplets. To allow Susan to spend more time at home, she took the reins and ran the company for 17 years.

CONSIDERING, she moved to San Miguel, Mexico, at the age of 75 to create a mission. She became very involved in helping the underprivileged of the area. “There was never a question of what I would do. My mother had been a humanitarian until the age of 94.”

CONSIDERING, she became involved in Rotary Club in Mexico, fell in love with it, and wanted to continue when she moved back to Baton Rouge. She contacted Rotary International to ask for the smallest club in the area. She was referred to Capital City Rotary Club, with a diverse and multi-ethnic membership. She served as grant writer for the club for years. Proceeds of the book are used to further Rotary’s humanitarian work. She writes, “I have a dream to provide a medical clinic and literacy center in Swaziland, which is moving toward reality … God is leading the way.”

CONSIDERING, she is hardwired to work hard and has always kept herself involved in her family and the community around her. “I believe that you shouldn’t retire from something. If you don’t retire to something of a higher calling, you don’t feel satisfied.”

CONSIDERING, she is a cancer survivor; she has advanced heart disease; and she is fighting the loss of central vision in one eye. But she is not afraid of death. “I believe in a here and now God. It’s been a privilege to create all the beauty and be immersed in creativity throughout the years. This life has been an exciting adventure for me.”