Onalee Joyce Hyder Cheetwood, age 87, of Fernandina Beach, Florida, died the evening of January 21, 2018 – guided by the light of a golden crescent moon.
She was born on August 6, 1930 in Adrian, Michigan to Sinda Byrd Hyder and William Bennie Hyder.
Onalee is survived by her children: Randal Nichols (partner Deborah) of Seattle, Samuel Nadon-Nichols (partner Jude) of Ann Arbor, Sinda Lee Nichols (spouse Will Howery) of Fernandina Beach, and Timothy Nichols (spouse Kris) of Augusta, Georgia. She is also survived by her grandchildren who she loved caring for as children and sharing books with: Sinda Brinker Nichols, Corrigan Nadon-Nichols, Ben Nichols, Stephannie Chupp, Rebekah Wright, and Steven Nichols. She is also survived by her siblings, Shirley Metzger, Steve Hyder (Eva), and Sonny Hyder; many loved nieces, nephews, great grand-children, two special daughter-in-laws and many friends throughout Michigan, North Carolina and Florida. Onalee was preceeded in death by her husband Eugene Cheetwood, her parents, and her sister, Theresa Coleman.
As a child Onalee loved roaming the woods along the Raisin River behind her home and attending the Raisin Center Friends Church. After graduating from Adrian High School in 1949, Onalee attended Cleveland Bible College for two years where she enjoyed studying literature and singing with the choir. Onalee married Carrol Reed Nichols in 1951 and was a minister’s wife in several churches throughout southwestern Michigan, and a substitute teacher in rural one room schools.
Onalee and Carrol were married for twenty seven years and enjoyed antique hunting, home remodeling, and taking their children on camping trips, to the theatre, and to music concerts in Detroit. After attending workshops at the University of Michigan, Onalee moved to Hartford, Connecticut where she worked for the Hartford Convention & Tourism Bureau.
She married Gene Cheetwood in 1981 and for the next 10 years fulfilled her love of exploring big cities, seeing theatre and the fun of train travel to visit family throughout the United States. Onalee moved to Wilmington, North Carolina in 1994 where she enjoyed many friendships along with classes at Unity Church, and working at Candles Etc. Easily remembered for her delicious cooking, for her devotion as a grandmother and as a woman who read avidly, loved nature, walks along the ocean, and entertaining others in her home.
As a mother she expressed her love of literature by reading poetry and stories to her children and grandchildren and later in life enjoyed being read to by her adult children. Throughout her life she treasured visiting historic sites and museums, collecting antiques, and was enthralled by aquatic life in aquariums, especially jellyfish. Always an avid supporter of her children’s education, she continually encouraged them and admired their achievements. She took inspiration from others great and small, being particularly inspired by the wisdom of Emily Dickinson, the elegance of Jacqueline Kennedy and the courage of Hillary Clinton.
As per her request, her ashes will be scattered along the ocean on or during a Full Moon.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful and caring staff at both Quality Health of Fernandina Beach and Northeast Florida Community Hospice Warner Center for Caring for all their expertise and care. Memorials may be made to the Fernandina Beach Friends of the Library. “To thine own self, be true.”