Cheri Pies, Creator of “Contemplating Parenthood,” Dies at 73

Cheri Pies, a professor of public well being who broke obstacles along with her landmark 1985 e book, “Contemplating Parenthood: A Workbook for Lesbians,” a bible of the “gayby increase” of the Nineteen Eighties and past, died on July 4 at her house in Berkeley, Calif. She was 73.

The trigger was most cancers, mentioned her spouse, Melina Linder.

Later in life, Dr. Pies (her first title was pronounced “Sherry”) grew to become a pioneering researcher and professor on the College of California, Berkeley College of Public Well being, investigating the results of financial and racial inequality in issues like toddler mortality and well being over generations.

However she made her title a long time earlier than her flip towards academia along with her groundbreaking e book. That journey started within the Seventies, when Dr. Pies was working as a well being educator for Deliberate Parenthood, counseling straight girls contemplating motherhood.

Her focus started to shift in 1978, after her feminine accomplice adopted a daughter. At the moment, the idea of brazenly homosexual mother and father was nonetheless principally unheard-of within the tradition at massive.

Simply that yr, New York grew to become the primary state to say it might not reject purposes for adoption solely on the premise of homosexuality. A yr later, a homosexual couple in California broke obstacles as the primary recognized to collectively undertake a toddler.

Dr. Pies was struck by the dearth of help obtainable to same-sex mother and father, in addition to the dearth of primary details about the distinctive challenges they face. She started operating workshops in her house in Oakland, Calif., promoting them with fliers in girls’s bookshops and different locations the place lesbians gathered.

By the early Nineteen Eighties, phrase of her work had unfold past the Bay Space, and she or he was bombarded with letters and cellphone calls from lesbians across the nation. In response, Dr. Pies compiled her teachings and experiences right into a e book. “Contemplating Parenthood: A Workbook for Lesbians,” printed by the lesbian feminist press Spinsters Ink, supplied sensible recommendation on a variety of matters, together with using sperm donors, authorized points surrounding adoption, and methods to construct a help community.

The e book, which appeared 30 years earlier than same-sex marriage was legalized nationally, opened the floodgates for numerous different books about L.G.B.T.Q. parenthood.

“She was completely a pioneer, and people of us who got here later constructed on her work,” G. Dorsey Inexperienced, a psychologist and creator of “The Lesbian Parenting E book” (with D. Merilee Clunis, 2003), was quoted as saying in an obituary about Dr. Pies on Mombian, a web site for lesbian mother and father. “I’d suggest her e book to purchasers. That was when lesbian {couples} had been simply beginning to consider having youngsters as out lesbians. Cheri began that dialog.”

Dr. Pies, who earned a grasp’s diploma in social work from Boston College in 1976, would ultimately flip to academia, receiving one other grasp’s diploma, in maternal and baby well being, from Berkeley in 1985 and a doctorate in well being schooling there in 1993.

She was serving because the director of household, maternal and baby well being packages for Contra Costa County, which borders Berkeley and Oakland, when she heard a lecture in 2003 by Dr. Michael C. Lu, who would go on to change into the dean of the Berkeley College of Public Well being.

Dr. Lu spoke a few idea referred to as life course idea, which facilities on the concept the social and financial circumstances at every stage in life, beginning with infancy, can have highly effective, lasting results over generations. “What surrounds us shapes us,” Dr. Pies defined in a 2014 lecture on the College of Alabama at Birmingham. “Some individuals would say your ZIP code is extra essential than your genetic code.”

At Berkeley, Dr. Pies would ultimately collaborate with Dr. Lu and others to create the Finest Infants Zone initiative, a groundbreaking program that may examine — and, ideally, enhance — well being circumstances in economically challenged neighborhoods across the nation.

In 2012, she grew to become this system’s principal investigator, after Dr. Lu took a publish within the Obama administration. The initiative included house well being visits and work with group leaders to create parent-child play teams, enhance park security and improve job-skills coaching. It started in Oakland, New Orleans and Cincinnati and had unfold to 6 different cities by 2017, the yr Dr. Pies retired from Berkeley. This system continues to be energetic at the moment.

“There are individuals doing large-scale coverage work round structural racism, making an attempt to vary coverage and observe,” Dr. Pies mentioned in an interview printed on the Berkeley College of Public Well being web site in April. “Finest Infants Zone is on the different finish of the spectrum, going small-scale to make change for individuals who can’t await coverage change to occur.”

The excessive incidence of low delivery weight and sudden toddler demise syndrome in such communities was a spotlight of this system. “Infants are the canary within the mine,” Dr. Pies mentioned in her College of Alabama speech. “If infants aren’t born wholesome, that one thing isn’t proper in the neighborhood.”

Cheramy Anne Pies was born on Nov. 26, 1949, in Los Angeles, the second of three daughters of Morris Pies, a doctor, and Doris (Naboshek) Pies, a nurse. (She later modified her title to Cheri.)

Rising up in Encino, within the San Fernando Valley, the outgoing, ebullient Cheri was a fan of flicks, notably musicals like “My Honest Girl,” and received an early style of the medical career working as a receptionist in her father’s workplace.

After graduating from close by Birmingham Excessive College, she enrolled at Berkeley in 1967, the place she earned a bachelor’s diploma in social science in 1971.

Berkeley on the time was a cauldron of Vietnam Conflict-era political passions, after the Free Speech Motion protests that rocked the campus beginning in 1964. “Although I used to be not actively engaged in it, I used to be actually uncovered to the politics of it,” she later mentioned of the motion.

Along with her spouse, Dr. Pies is survived by her sisters, Lois Goldberg and Stacy Pies.

She would ultimately channel Berkeley’s Sixties spirit of activism as an creator and professor, working to enhance the lives of brazenly lesbian mother and father of the Nineteen Eighties and past — whose numbers swelled so shortly that by 1996, Newsweek journal would report that an estimated six million to 14 million youngsters in the US had at the very least one homosexual father or mother.

“Adoption businesses report increasingly inquiries from potential mother and father — particularly males — who determine themselves as homosexual,” the article learn, “and sperm banks say they’re within the midst of what some name a ‘gayby increase’ propelled by lesbians.”

Lots of that technology would acknowledge their debt to Dr. Pies for the remainder of her life, Ms. Linder mentioned in a cellphone interview: “Cheri and I could possibly be anyplace on the earth — on a hike in New Zealand or simply strolling within the Berkeley Hills — and folks would see her and cease to thank her, saying how Ben or Alice or whoever wouldn’t be of their life had been it not for Cheri.”

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