Kennewick High grad still among the living

By Andy Perdue, Tri-City HeraldAugust 8, 2011 

KENNEWICK -- Cheri Schumann would like Kennewick High School's Class of 1971 -- and the rest of the Tri-Cities -- to know she is not dead.

A story in Saturday's Tri-City Herald about Kennewick High's reunion during the weekend focused on seven classmates out of 80 who had been slain. Schumann -- now Cheri Taylor -- found out Sunday she was included among the dead after her sister called her to say a friend in Yakima had passed along condolences.

"My sister was very upset," said Taylor, who lives in Mill Creek, a community north of Seattle. "It was very unsettling. I've felt creepy all day."

According to research done by Taylor's classmates, she was murdered in 1996. Not only is she alive and well, but she also is happily married and has four children.

"And they're all alive," she said with a laugh. "I'm happy and healthy and kicking. I'm not ready to be buried!"

Taylor grew up in Kennewick, and her parents owned Emil's Chuckwagon, a popular downtown western bar. After graduation, she married her high school sweetheart, Bruce Coleman. They had one daughter before they divorced.

"Like so many young marriages do, it crumbled. But the friendship stayed," she said.

In fact, she went to her 20th class reunion in 1991 with Marty, her husband of 25 years, and Coleman, and the Taylors even stayed with Coleman and his family.

"Our lives have stayed intermingled. We've done lots of things together as families."

Debra Blum, co-chairwoman of the class reunion, said the misinformation on Taylor's premature demise came via email, apparently from another classmate. Blum used and other sources to try to verify it. She even went to the libraries in Kennewick and Richland to try to search through microfiche of the Tri-City Herald -- all to no avail.

During Saturday's reunion, Blum found out that another classmate listed in Saturday's paper -- Leo Marcel -- also was not murdered; instead, he passed away in 2004 at Kennewick General Hospital after a lengthy illness.

Blum plans to call Taylor to apologize for the exaggerated reports of her death and to catch up, then send an email to the Class of '71 with an update.

Taylor said that not only is she not dead, but she's not even trying to hide. She left town not long after graduation and lived in Moses Lake until the mid-'90s, when she moved to the Seattle area.

"It's not like I dropped off the face of the Earth. I haven't been there for 35 years, but for goodness sake, I didn't die," she said.

In fact, the Class of '71 has her current address because she has been receiving information about the reunion -- and she would have gone if not for a wedding she decided to attend instead.

"Now I'm sorry I missed it," she said. "It would have been a hoot if I had shown up."

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