Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Birth: Virginia, Minnesota
Cheryl Chodun was born in Virginia, Minnesota, to Helen Walt and Samuel Eder. Cheryl's family roots were in eastern and central Europe, but she spent her earliest years in a tiny Jewish community in northwest Minnesota. After moving to Michigan with her family, Cheryl attended public schools before entering Ferndale High School and Wayne State University. It was at Wayne that she met her husband, Stan. They were married when she was twenty years old.
After graduation from Wayne State, Cheryl taught school briefly in Royal Oak, but left to raise two young children. She was interested in getting a position in journalism because "I had a background in English and liked to write." She walked into the office at the Southfield Eccentric sporting pigtails and wearing jeans with her two children on her hip and asked for an interview. Later, when she was called back she quickly "bought a suit." The new job launched her career as a freelance writer.
The Southfield Eccentric position led to a job at the Detroit News and then to radio and finally to WXYZ Channel 7, one of the three major television stations in metropolitan Detroit.
During her career, Cheryl covered every kind of story imaginable. She interviewed presidents and prisoners, and covered disasters and demonstrations. She spent thirty-five years in the news business. Because of Cheryl's position as a reporter, she had the opportunity to fly on future President Bill Clinton's press plane when he was running for office. She also covered the Detroit visits of Pope John Paul II and also Nelson Mandela. Cheryl worked with many of Detroit's most noted news personalities, including Bill Bonds and Diana Lewis.
Cheryl was often the first reporter on the scene. But, as she teaches her journalism students at Madonna University and Lawrence Technological University, being first or breaking the story is only "great" if all the facts are correct: "A good reporter must be respectful, compassionate, and caring." When the news she covered involved tragedy or loss, it was not unusual for her to bond with the victims or their families.
In 2014, Cheryl was inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame.
A colleague gave her the nickname, "Choo Choo," referring to her persistence and perseverance. "I would never give up," she states, until she got the story or until secured the job.
"I can teach everything to journalism students except passion," hoping her own passion is contagious. She has been described as "tenacious but trusted...respected and responsible."
Cheryl brought her compassion to people into her community. When she was not working, Cheryl contributed as a volunteer to the Jewish community. She never turned down a request to address a Jewish organization or serve as a master of ceremonies. She walked and spoke on behalf of finding a cure for cancer.
When Cheryl retired from Channel 7 in 2013, she said she felt "blessed to be able to do something she so loved for so long and hoped she made a difference in the lives of the people whose stories she was able to tell."
Written by Jeannie Weiner in collaboration with Cheryl Chodun