Photo provided 
Cheryl Fesmire
Photo provided Cheryl Fesmire
Cheryl Fesmire was a caring, wonderful soul and loved by many.

She portrayed Mrs. Claus in Westfield in Lights holiday event, played Frances Slocum through the Indiana State Museum and was a costumed interpreter at the Indiana Historical Society.
But those of us in Hamilton County probably knew her best from Westfield Playhouse, where she directed and produced plays.
She was always on her toes, messaging me when there was an upcoming production, making sure that I would promote it in The Times. And she was always quick to return my messages.

I hadn’t talked to her in a while. Her last text to me was in May 2018, when she was producing “Picnic” at Westfield Playhouse, with show director Jen Otterman. Fesmire was nominated for Encore Association’s Best Producer of a Drama award for that show.

Fesmire was especially thrilled about every show that she directed. “Perfect Crime” was one of her favorites. “I love this play,” she told me. Fesmire had seen the Stanley Kubrick movie when it first came out, and really wanted to direct it.
Thom Johnson of Westfield was among the cast in the play. “She cast me in one of my more difficult roles,” he said. “Her patience with me and commitment to the show itself was unending.”
For Fesmire, patience came easy. I remember her telling me that this particular role was “very different for Thom and stretches him and his abilities. It’s Thom as he has not been seen before,” she said proudly, showing her confidence in him in the role.
Johnson, the Playhouse board vice president of business, was directed by her several times and had the privilege to act with Fesmire once.

He said, “I feel like I have always known Cheryl, though in reality, it had only been about five years total. But her kind, gentle way made her a joy to be around, both in everyday life and as my director.”

Johnson said, “In every role she accepted, whether onstage or at the back of the house, watching us act as her cast, she was thoroughly in our corner. For that and all the grace that was Cheryl, I will always be in her corner.”
Cheryl Fesmire died on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, after fighting a battle with pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to her bones. She was 69.
Kate Hinman of Westfield, Playhouse board secretary, had a tough time coming up with words to share, knowing that her friend “Cheryl was a very, very private person.”
Fesmire had been ill for some time and in the hospital for some days before word got out about her illness.

Hinman said, “She was very humble and did not seek out attention and was shy when attention was given.”

She called Fesmire “an exemplary human being who loved her family, her friends, animals and especially her theater family. She always put others before herself. She is missed. Terribly.”

Kevin Shadle, Fishers, the Playhouse’s board treasurer, said, “I met Cheryl years ago though our general association with community theater, specifically through Westfield Playhouse. From my point of view, she loved three things: community theater, dogs and the people in her life - in no particular order. I was in ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’ which she directed, but loved spending time with her, whether a stage was involved or not.”

Jan Jamison, Westfield Playhouse’s vice president of arts, met Fesmire several years ago through Noblesville’s John Sampson. “I had the privilege of being her producer for ‘The Odd Couple’ for Carmel Community Players, which was the first time we actually worked together on a production,” Jamison said.

She auditioned for Fesmire for “Grace and Glory” at Center Stage Community Theater in Lebanon. “She cast me as Grace, even though I am not 90 years old, I am not from Appalachia, and not suffering with a debilitating disease. She cast me because, she said, ‘I just saw something during your audition that led me to believe you could handle this role.’ I was very flattered, but she was like that. She saw some special talent in everyone and directed them developing that talent. We laughed about it later because it was only a two-person show with 88 pages of dialogue -- which I shared with the extremely talented Susan Rardin -- and we all wondered ‘What have I taken on?’

The only other opportunity they had to work closely together was on a play called, “The Gift,” written by Louis Janeira, in which Jameson cast Fesmire in one of the key roles.

“Outside of theater, Cheryl was a good friend, always available to chat over coffee, and she was such a caring and encouraging, loving woman. We shared many a discussion about our hip replacements.”
Jameson, who penned these thoughts in an email, said, “As I write this, I am reliving fond memories and shedding a few tears. It was so hard to see her in so much pain since April of this year, but she never gave up and was still sassy until the end. Cheryl is going to be missed by all.”
Fesmire once told me that she loved play directing because it “allows me the excitement of bringing a script to life with my vision.”
Fesmire earned a bachelor's degree in Speech and Drama and was working in community theater for 12 years after more than 30 years away from the stage. She was involved at Carmel Community Players, and in 2016 directed an original Bicentennial play “Follow the Drinking Gourd” for Westfield Playhouse and Westfield Parks and Recreation as part of the Legacy Projects by the State of Indiana. She also had the “privilege,” she said, of directing “More Light: Douglass Returns” at Logan Street Sanctuary in Noblesville. This was also a part of the Bicentennial celebration.
Cheryl Fesmire will be remembered during A Celebration of Life from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019, at The Alley Theatre Co. in Central Christian Church, 923 Jackson St., Anderson.

John Sampson of Noblesville, president of Main Street Productions, which operates Westfield Playhouse, often built sets and designed lighting for Fesmire’s shows, which she referred to as “beautiful.”
Sampson, who thought greatly of Fesmire, posted Wednesday on Facebook, “She would want us to use the joy she brought to continue to grow in the love for each other and be happy that she could have made such a positive impact on our lives.”

Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.