December 2008


For the Cherry daughters

TVA is a family affair

When Jack Cherry Jr., a machinist-welder with Reynolds Metal in Florence, Ala., and his wife, Mamie, were raising their family of 10, he steered his children toward careers as machinists and toward TVA.


Mamie Cherry, left, talks with her mother Daisy Oakley at the Power Service Shop II in Muscle Shoals.

Jack, now 74, probably didn’t imagine that all five of his daughters and two of his granddaughters would make their careers at TVA. (His wife, Mamie, passed away in 1994.)

The fourth daughter, Jacqueline Gusmus, was the first to join TVA, in 1992. Gusmus works for River Operations as a Hydro Tech IV at Wilson Hydro Plant in Muscle Shoals.

Marilyn Alexander, the second-oldest daughter, is a Shift Operations supervisor at Allen Fossil Plant. The oldest daughter, Mary Whiteside, and No. 3, Daisy Oakley, were next.

“Dad steered us toward the machinists’ local,” says Oakley. “There we found out about TVA training programs. Mary and I signed on 15 years ago on the same day.”


Marilyn Alexander, left, and her niece, Cassidy Chandler, work at Allen Fossil Plant in Memphis.

Oakley is a field supervisor (craft support) with the Power Service Shops in Muscle Shoals. Whiteside is a Tech III at Colbert Fossil Plant. Frances Cherry, the youngest, is a boilermaker, working at TVA’s various fossil and nuclear plants with contractors GUBMK, Alstrom, NPS and Stone & Webster.

For good measure, Oakley has two daughters carrying on the family tradition. Mamie Cherry is a boilermaker apprentice with GUBMK in Muscle Shoals, and Cassidy Chandler, who came in under an apprentice program, is a Student Generator Plant Operator at Allen. Oakley’s son, Benjamin, is a student at the University of North Alabama.

For the record, the three surviving Cherry brothers haven’t worked for TVA — yet. David Cherry works for the Corps of Engineers in Muscle Shoals. Jerry Cherry works for an upholstery manufacturer in Montgomery, Ala., and Travis works for a bathroom fixture manufacturer in Florence.

“We all love what we’re doing,” says Oakley. “And we love being at TVA together.”