Cheryl Celeste Smyler-George was born December 3, 1951 to Charles Bernard Smyler and Hattie Elizabeth Smyler (nee Jenkins) in Brooklyn, NY. The family relocated to Long Island when Cheryl was in grade school. She graduated from Hempstead High School and was awarded a NOAH Program scholarship to attend Hofstra University where she majored in early education. Cheryl developed and nurtured her love of music and became the first African American designated first chair viola in the high school orchestra. Cheryl performed, wrote, published folk music and taught the violin, viola and other instruments to elementary students and children in her church family.
In High School Cheryl established the Black Action Movement (BAM) to address and combat racism in the school and the country at large. She continued to be a civil rights activist and advocate, fostering equality for women and minorities during her tenure at Hofstra University and throughout her lifetime. Cheryl was the founder and Executive Director of the PREP Program, a federally funded contractor of the U.S. Department of Labor, which placed women and minorities into the Building and Construction Trades. She launched the careers of over one hundred individuals through her program. Her final successful placement was that of her son, Mandela-Smyler-George into the electrician’s union IBEW, Local 25. Cheryl was honored by President Clinton for her employment efforts for women and minority men throughout Long Island and the five boroughs of New York City.
Cheryl served on numerous boards including, the Hofstra University Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy Board of Advisors/Labor Studies School, Women on the Job and the Women’s Fund of Long Island. She was the facilitator of the “Pay Equity for Women” Project on Equal Payday and equal wages legislation and was a participant on the White House Brain Trust for Women’s Issues, under Valerie Jarret, Senior Advisor to President Obama.
Cheryl fully embraced God and was devoted to her church, Second Baptist Church of Rockville Centre. She was dedicated to her Pastor, the late Reverend Preston H. Drinks and adored his family, wife First Lady Marilyn Drinks, daughter Tara and son Xavier. She remained a faithful servant of her church for over 35 years serving on the Scholarship, Sisterhood, Pastor’s Aide and Church Anniversary Ministries.
Cheryl met Dewey Register at Hofstra and their union produced her beautiful daughter, Tiara Tamu Register. Her marriage to Melvin George brought forth the birth of her handsome son, Melvin Mandela Smyler-George. Cheryl possessed an alluring smile and electric personality. Her loving and caring spirit was reciprocated by her being loved by throngs of people. It would require a novel to extol all of the virtues and accomplishments of Cheryl Smyler-George.
Cheryl Celeste Smyler-George was preceded in death by her beloved niece, Tanya Joy Peterson-Lemons (Gregory). Cheryl leaves to cherish her memory, her two children, Tiara Tamu Register (Martin Walker, fiancé) and Melvin Mandela Smyler-George (Ashley Colon, companion), sisters, Deborah Lynn Peterson (James Edward) and Denise Joy Smyler-Dillon (Kevin Arthur), nephew Rahsaad Yusef Peterson, great nephew Tyler James Henry Lemons, husband Melvin George. She adored her adopted “sons” and “daughters” Darnell Mayers, Jason Hull, Jamal Macklin, Anthony Ferieras, Sheila “Missy” Wilson Wells, Courtney Crandall, Solisha Fischetti, Tanya Davidson-Thomas. Along with a host of loving family and friends.