Dr. Lorraine Cherry, president of Friends of W. 11th St. Park, passed away Saturday, November 25, 2017. She is survived by her husband of 27 years, Dave Dyer of Houston, and her brother, Jeff Kasmar of Albany, CA.
She moved to Houston in 1980 after finishing her Ph.D. in genetics at The University of California, Berkeley, and spent 18 years in various faculty positions in the medical school at The University of Texas Health Sciences Center. She then founded her own research and consulting service for biomedical professionals which she ran for 15 years. She authored or co-authored several hundred technical and scientific publications. Her California friends were shocked when she told them that she preferred living in Houston over Berkeley.
She is best known for her activism to preserve the 20-acre natural area that is now known as West 11th St. Park. Starting in 1998, she led a group of volunteers and coordinated with community leaders, local business leaders and government officials in the successful multi-year campaign to raise the moneys for the acquisition of the property from Houston Independent School District. The City of Houston established the park in 2007.
Friends of West 11th Street Park, part of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department Adopt-A-Park program, was organized in 2005 with Dr. Cherry leading the group as President until her passing in 2017. Friends of West 11th Street Park steward the 20-acre park. Their vision statement for the park is: “This land shall be preserved forever as a natural habitat. Future amenities and improvements will be designed to promote conservation and the appreciation and enjoyment of nature.”
Dr. Cherry’s community service was not limited to her work for the preservation of the West 11th Street Park. She also served on the Timbergrove Manor Civic Club as chairperson for environmental affairs for numerous years. She was also an active member of the Lazybrook/Timbergrove Super Neighborhood group.
Dr. Cherry assisted in the creation of the Friends of Jaycee Park and provided the group with guidance in their successful goal of renovating the Jaycee Park. The renovations featured a 1/3 mile walking trail, new basketball court, renovated tennis courts, new playground, H-E-B Water Playground, reforestation, picnic tables, benches and other baseball field lighting renovations.
Dr. Cherry served as liaison for both Timbergrove Manor Civic Club and Lazybrook/Timbergrove Super Group 14 with the Houston Parks Board regarding the design and construction of the Bayou Greenways, White Oak Bayou, Bryce - West 11th, Gateway/Trailhead. This alone was a three year project with numerous hours spent in meetings discussing revisions and incorporating community comments on the design and implementation.
Dr. Cherry’s legacy is one of phenomenal community service due to her unrivaled dedication to the creation, preservation and improvement of greenspace in the City of Houston.
She was a gourmet cook, a world traveler, and a great friend to many people. She provided calm and wise counsel to many organizations within the City of Houston. Lorraine was one of those rare people who was successful at everything she tried, and she kept trying new things.