In Memory

Cheryl Alexander VIEW PROFILE

Cheryl Alexander

 Cheryl Alexander-Soward, director of public information for the city of Corpus Christi and a former KRIS 6 News anchor, died late Wednesday from complications related to cancer. She was 38.

"Cheryl was one of the bravest people I've ever known," said Skip Noe, city manager. "She'd answer e-mail and visit on the phone while in chemotherapy, always engaged despite her struggle."

Soward became the city's spokeswoman in 2002, seven months before she was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, an acute leukemia, in December.

"She was a lot tougher than I could have ever been," said her husband, Samuel Derrick Soward, 40, a self-employed vice president of a communications company.

Shortly after they met in 1994, Cheryl Soward found his college diploma and fraternity charter stashed in a closet. It had been torn into little pieces by a previous girlfriend, he said. Without his knowledge, Soward tracked the previous fraternity president and university officials to have duplicates prepared.

"I knew then this was the girl for me," Soward said.

Soward went into remission after her first chemotherapy treatment in early 2003, but was scheduled for treatment in June last year when she passed out and fell, breaking her nose. By October, complications had caused swelling on her brain, causing her to be paraplegic since October, her husband said.

Cheryl Alexander-Soward hosted telethons for 'Jerry's Kids' while a voice of local news - for nine years on the Corpus Christi NBC affiliate KRIS 6 News. Her career change came from a desire to be closer to her daughter, her husband said.

Alexandra "Lexie" Soward, 5, starts kindergarten this fall at Incarnate Word Academy.

The career change also sparked controversy. Some city leaders were uncomfortable about Soward's $76,500 salary. But then city manager David Garcia faced off in an executive session with council members to explain Soward's charge to develop a communications plan with neighborhood groups. From that goal emerged a new era in communication for the city, Noe said. Her plans allowed citizens greater access in giving input to city officials.

Sowardresponded to the demands of reporters in every realm with uncomfortable news, such as relaying the head wounds of a police officer downed in action, and she handled the news with "grace, dignity and professional stamina," friends and colleagues said.

"Cheryl was such a role model to me," said Lorette Winters, spokeswoman for Corpus Christi Independent School District. "I was a cub reporter when I took over her morning news spot. She gave me her alarm clock and said, 'Honey, you're going to need this to do the 4 a.m. program.' I still have it to this day."

Soward is also survived by her parents, Merle and Jay Gearman, and Ed and Jo Beth Alexander, all of San Antonio. The rosary will be recited at 7 p.m. today at Seaside Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at noon Saturday at St. Philip The Apostle Catholic Church. Burial will follow at Seaside Memorial Park.

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11/07/10 10:42 PM #1    

Becky Pestana (Casares)

Cheryl passed away in 2006, when her daughter was only five years old.  She must be around nine now, with middle school and high school just a few short years away.  It would be so nice for her daughter to know who her mother was from the friends who knew her best.  You know, funny stories, pranks, bonding experiences, things friends admired about her, etc.  If you have something special to share about Cheryl, please post.  And if you have any old photos of her, perhaps some the family has never seen, please email them to me or to Karrie Ross Pennebaker.  Thanks!  -Becky Pestana Casares

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