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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Octogenarian Author, Entrepreneur, Rotarian Still Giving

Octogenarian Cheri McDaniel is doing more good for the world at 87 than most people do in their prime. She recently completed her memoirs, He Lays the Stones For Our Steps: Living Life Abundantly in the Face of Adversity.

Cheri was born in humble circumstances and became a successful entrepreneur–at a time and in a place where that was unusual for women. Living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana she was the only woman home builder in town. Later, she launched and ran an antique shop with European imports. Initially, she launched the store with her daughter but took it over full time and gave up home building when her daughter had quadruplets.

Cheri’s life really began when she retired at 75. “After successful careers, I’m using my life lessons to engage in humanitarian efforts that will help transform the lives of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished citizens. These projects range from providing safe drinking water in third-world nations to providing music programs for dementia-impacted senior citizens here in Baton Rouge,” she says.

Most recently, she’s been working on projects in Swaziland. “In my 80’s I have focused for 5 years on a continent I will never see: Africa,” she says.

Over the last four years, she’s raised money through Rotary to buy four acres and 30,000 square feet of building in Swaziland for a medical clinic and economic development center for people living on less than $2 per day. She’s excited that working with her local Baton Rouge Capital City Rotary Club she doesn’t have to raise all the money herself. Rotary International matches the money for her projects that don’t include real estate through a “global grant” program that helps clubs financially with international projects like Cheri’s.

Theresa and Daran Rehmeyer who moved to Swaziland in 2005 are pictured with Cheri McDaniel, courtesy of Cheri McDaniel

Theresa and Daran Rehmeyer who moved to Swaziland in 2005 are pictured with Cheri McDaniel, courtesy of Cheri McDaniel

Cheri has a deep and abiding Christian faith, recognizing at various times in her life how she has felt God’s influence in her life. It is her faith that inspired her memoir. “If each of us is truly observant and aware we will find that indeed, He Lays the Stones For Our Steps. We can live life more abundantly when we leave our mark on the world. There are so many needs and opportunities. The choice is ours.”

Who’s to say, this isn’t Cheri’s prime!

On Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 4:00 Eastern, Cheri will join me for a live discussion about her work with Rotary, her faith and her remarkable life. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.

Octogenarian Cheri McDaniel, author of "He Lay the Stones..."

Octogenarian Cheri McDaniel, author of “He Lay the Stones…”

Cheri’s bio:

I overcame the obstacles of Depression-era poverty in north Louisiana to become a successful business woman and entrepreneur. I promoted my Cheri Homes, Inc. home design and building business with the phrase “built with a woman’s touch.” I was the only Baton Rouge woman in new construction and subdivision development, building some 300 homes in a 30 year career. When my daughter became pregnant with the fifth set of in vitro quadruplets in the world, I changed careers and managed our international Fireside Antiques, specializing in European antiques, for seventeen years until age 75.

I am now 87 and enjoying my most meaningful years creating humanitarian outreaches through Rotary International to empower our world’s most vulnerable and impoverished. To encourage hope, faith, and service I have published my inspirational memoirs, He Lays the Stones For Our Steps: Living Life Abundantly in the Face of Adversity. Proceeds benefit Rotary humanitarian work.

I live in Baton Rouge at St. James Place and find places of service, especially in the health and memory care areas with the medium of music and singing the old songs and hymns, proven to be the most effective way to bring quality of life.

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