Cheryl Sheppard Kniffen passed away surrounded by her loved ones at home on March 7, 2014. Her death was the result of a fourteen year battle with breast cancer. She was 53.
Cheryl was born on May 27, 1960, in LaGrange, Georgia, to Grover and Edith Sheppard. She was the youngest of nine siblings and is survived by six sisters and one brother. She is survived by her loving husband of 29 years, Daniel Clinton Kniffen, and their two children, Matthew Clinton Kniffen and Michelle Elizabeth Kniffen, her seven siblings, Selvwyn Scarborough, Melvin and Linda Sheppard, Annette and Oliver Reason, Mary and Franklin Reese, Martha and Danny Curtis, Janice and Sid Shelnutt, all of LaGrange and Paula and David McClain of Panama City, Florida, and many nieces and nephews. She is predeceased by her parents, her brother Wayne Sheppard, brother-in-law Lane Scarborough, and father-in-law Harvard Kniffen.
Cheryl graduated top of class from Troup County High School in 1978 and attended Young Harris College and Mercer University graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in business. She then graduated from the Walter F. George School of Law summa cum laude. While attending, Cheryl was Managing Editor of the Mercer Law Review. Cheryl received the Hatton Lovejoy Scholarship for college and law school.
Cheryl clerked for the Honorable William Clarke O'Kelley, United States District Court Judge, for two years, and later, for the Georgia Court of Appeals. She was also the director of the preschool at Winder First Methodist Church. After taking time off of working to raise her two children, Cheryl taught 4th grade in the Jackson County school system. Later, Cheryl worked for Thompson Slagle, and Hannon in Johns Creek, Georgia, where she handled complex construction litigation.
Cheryl was an avid philanthropist, always putting others before herself. She regularly contributed to and participated in events in the Atlanta area. Cheryl inspired many other women with cancer with her bravery and determination to live a full and happy life in spite of her diagnosis. She was also heavily involved in the organization Eternal Hope for Haiti, which provides food and shelter for orphans in Haiti as well as medical attention for the area's population. She contributed and sponsored the charity Street Grace, which endeavors to fight and stop child sex slave trafficking internationally.
Cheryl loved her family above all. She shared a special bond with her sisters and brothers and loved her numerous nieces and nephews like they were her own children. Cheryl had a special love for children which led her to many of her career and philanthropic endeavors. She enjoyed traveling with her friends and family to experience new places and cultures, traveling to places such as Peru, Germany, Haiti, and all over the United States. She had a love of knowledge and loved to read. She was an active person, enjoying activities such as tennis, hiking, boating, and running as a way to enjoy nature and stay in shape.
Cheryl was a devout Christian for all of her life, loving others as she loved God, and was an active member of The Vine United Methodist Church in Braselton, Ga. Her faith in God and application of that faith led Cheryl to serve others with a steadfast smile and unwavering determination. She was kind, joyous, empathetic, loving, and jovial with everyone she met. She could light up a room with her smile and her laughter was infectious. She will be missed and loved by all she came to know and love.
Cheryl's memorial service will be held on Wednesday March 12, 2014, at the Hebron Baptist Church Chapel in Dacula, Georgia, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Cheryl's honor to Barrow County to combat breast cancer, or Eternal Hope in Haiti (www.eternalhopeinhaiti.org)
A memorial service will be held in LaGrange at a later date.
Cheryl Sheppard Kniffen was and continues to be a guiding light to those who have lost hope in the face of terrible circumstances. Her life and achievements stand testament that with enough perseverance, unwavering faith, and love for others, anything is possible.