Obituary of Cheryl V. Cobb
Amherst - Cheryl Virgina Cobb, A beloved teacher, mother, and member of the community, Cheryl passed away on Friday, October 1, 2021, in Amherst, Massachusetts from pancreatic cancer. She was known by some family members as “Cherry” and later by friends as “Diva”.
Cheryl was born May 30, 1945, in Hornell, New York to Virgil Harrington Hussey and Marian Elizabeth Hopkins, formerly of Greenwood, N.Y. She married George Whitfield Cobb in Richmond, Virginia on May 12, 1971. George passed away on May 6, 2020, in Springfield, MA. Cheryl was a resident of Amherst, Massachusetts for 20 years and South Hadley for 15 years.
After her childhood in the town of Greenwood, N.Y, Cheryl earned degrees from The Eastman School of Music and New England Conservatory. She went on to receive a Masters of Social Work from Boston College, which continued her work as a social justice demonstrator, fighting against racial injustices.
Cheryl was a dedicated music teacher for over 45 years. A much-beloved colleague, teacher, and musician, she joined Mt. Holyoke College as a full-time faculty member in 2006 and coordinated the music department’s vocal performance program from 2007 until August this year when she took ill. She made numerous concert appearances with her colleagues at Mount Holyoke College. Cheryl especially enjoyed doing the sound effects in Mount Holyoke College’s radio show production of The Big Broadcast and singing in faculty shows.
Her colleagues describe Cheryl as a great teacher and mentor, with exceptional dedication to helping her students excel as vocalists. One of Cheryl’s most accomplished students reminisced that she “took the time to get to know me, my personality, and how I would learn best. She really cared about me and taught me as an individual. Cheryl made me work hard to be my best.”
Cheryl sang throughout the East, including performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Musica Viva. She appeared in operas in Boston, Paris and Brussels. Her recordings include “Herstory I” by Elizabeth Vercoe (National Public Radio), “Full Moon in March” by John Harbison (Nonesuch) and Peter Sellar’s modern interpretation of Handel's “Giulio Cesare” (London Video). She was the former chair of the Voice Dept. of the Extension Division of New England Conservatory. Cheryl was the director of the choir at Center Church in South Hadley, MA. She said that she was “happy to have the opportunity to conduct the wonderful choir at Center Church. Both choir and congregation are always happy to take on the challenges of many different kinds of music. We try never to be boring!”
With friends she enjoyed playing badminton, hiking up Mount Katahdin, traveling abroad, and fishing in Goshen, Massachusetts. And grandma Cheryl loved nothing better than playing with and singing to her 7 month old grandson.
She was known for going with the flow, and she enjoyed life spontaneously. Her cousin Kathleen remembers a time when her young sons asked “Cherry” if they could “decorate” her hair with hair paint. She enthusiastically said “Yes, of course!” They proceeded to spray her hair blue, red, and green. In the mirror, she reveled in her new look and thanked them for making her so stylish.
Cheryl’s gift was her natural ability to bring humor to a scene on the stage and off the stage. She would dress up for her students just to lighten the mood. She might play a tune on a kazoo instead of her usual keyboard. She was silly just at the right time. She’d occasionally break into a Donald Duck voice to make someone laugh. Because she never took herself too seriously, she had that rare gift of making anyone she met feel at ease, accepted...welcome.
Cheryl is survived by her daughter, Lee Tae Cobb and son-in-law Tyler McGinnis, of Pittsburgh, PA, and grandson Forest McGinnis of Amherst, Massachusetts, her cousins Paula Lane of Las Vegas, Nevada, and Pamela McDavid and Kathleen McGough, of Portland, Oregon.
Calling hours will be held in memory of both Cheryl and George on Thursday, October 14, 2021 from 4:00p.m.-6:00p.m. at the Beers and Story South Hadley Funeral Home. Next spring, the family hopes to have a celebration of life for both Cheryl and George. The family is requesting that bright colors be worn to the calling hours. Donations can be made in her name to the Fisher Home in Amherst, MA or Center Church in South Hadley, MA. The Cobb - McGinnis family wishes to thank the community who stood by us always.