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© Criswell Funeral Home
Cheri Charlee Lanis
March 17, 1958 - August 23, 2015
Submitted by: Jo Aguirre


Cheri Charlee Lanis was an idealist. The glass was always half full, and when it was not she would fill it, preferably with wine. The 57-year-old wife, mother, and grandmother passed away at home on Sunday, August 23, after yearlong battle with cancer. She was cheerful and optimistic until the very end.

It marked the end of an extraordinary life that began in 1958 in Los Angeles, California. Born on Saint Patrick’s Day to a Baptist Minister and a future French Historian, Charlee was destined to be a troublemaker.

Charlee’s forays into mischief started young. One of her first memories was when she pushed her little sister into a puddle of oily mud immediately after their father warned them against getting dirty. Charlee quickly blamed the incident on her little sister, who was still too young to talk and defend herself.

When she was eight, Charlee decided to cut off all her hair the day before Easter. Her furious parents spent the entire evening hunting down a stylist that could fix her up for the next morning’s sermon.

Charlee’s mischief did not stop there. As a teenager, she skipped school as often as possible, but was good enough at it to rarely get caught. At sixteen, she was driving around town in a 1967 Plymouth Barracuda, which she never could park properly. She became well known to her friends and children for getting parking tickets and vehicles towed, usually at the worst possible time. The Barracuda also led to a lifetime with a severe lead foot, though she miraculously never received a single speeding ticket. She would never live down, however, that one time she got a warning.

Charlee loved traveling and made an effort to show her kids as much of the country as possible. Later in life she began a passion for ballroom dancing, forcing her husband into regular exercise and making a long list of new friends along the way.

She was well known in the community as the Coordinator of Community Education at East Central University, where she managed many of the University’s non-credit classes. She was also very active within ECU’s Women’s Club and was a member of several non-profit boards around the city and state.

Charlee is survived by her husband, Dr. Tom Lanis, her three children, Dr. Jordi M. Melton (née Lanis), Cristin F. Franks (née Lanis), and Charles Alex Lanis, her grandson, Kason Michael Franks, her little sister, Charisse Sandberg, and her niece and nephew, Margaret Harman and Nathaniel Sandberg.

The Lanis family would like to thank everyone that made the past year as comfortable as possible. Charlee would have liked to personally thank the wonderful staff at Mercy Hospital in Ada and McCortney Family Hospice who went well beyond their duties in providing encouragement and ensuring dignity during her treatment and final moments.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the ECU Foundation for the Women’s Club or for scholarships t0 the College of Education.

Memorial services will be held at 11:00am Saturday, September 5th, at Foundation Hall in the Chickasaw Business and Conference Center on the ECU campus.


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