Life Reflection

Yes, I have put together some of the details of my life.  It’s a great exercise.


Barbara L. Sherf passed  on XXXX, XX, 20XX of XXXX.

Ms. Sherf, who was born March 19, 1962 and raised in Philadelphia and Bucks County before moving to Flourtown, Montgomery County for a marriage to Brad R. Shapiro in 1988.  Mr. Shapiro was/is a cinematographer who started Location Lighting, a grip and lighting company, and Location Camera and eventually sold both businesses to semi-retire; taking photographs and making travel films with his wife later in life.

The couple had no children, but helped raise three nieces and three nephews and rescued many golden retrievers over the years from the Montgomery County SPCA, Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (DVGRR.org) and Golden Retriever Rescue, Education and Training (GRREAT.org).

Ms. Sherf, the third of four children, attended Neshaminy, Langhorne High School (1980), in Bucks County, where she got involved in the video club and school newspaper.  She then attended Bucks County Community College and Temple University, earning a degree in Print Journalism.  While in college, Ms. Sherf worked at WBCB AM in Levittown, Channel 6 Action News and Ray Sears Productions in order to pay for her education.

Upon graduation, she loaded a small rental trailer and headed north to Corning, New York to become the News Director at WCBA AM.  From there, she made her way into the Lehigh Valley, where she served as an anchor and reporter at WAEB AM-FM.  While at the station, Ms. Sherf received four awards from the Associated Press for multi-part series she produced and reported on, covering topics such as drug abuse, radon gas, AIDS, and homelessness.  Ms. Sherf spent a night at a homeless shelter as part of the series on the homeless, and interviewed a woman her own age who had contracted AIDS as part of a moving series on the (then) newly discovered epidemic.

From there, she moved back to the Philadelphia area for marriage and worked at WHYY (National Public Radio Philadelphia affiliate) and the Times Herald daily newspaper in Norristown, before being recruited by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to start a Community Relations program.  While with the state, she developed a new employee orientation program, oversaw a monthly regional Roundtable meeting, started an internal and external newsletter, and built the department into a four-person operation over the four years she served in the Southeast regional office.

She then went to work for Collaborations, a Philadelphia public relations firm located in the Head House Square section of the city.  While there, she worked on a variety of cultural accounts, and oversaw the development of a public education campaign for the City’s new commercial recycling regulations.  Ms. Sherf then worked in the corporate world overseeing the internal and external team put in place to develop a web presence at the Institute for Scientific Information, before starting her own firm in 1996.

Ms. Sherf worked extensively on statewide recycling education and litter prevention programs before diversifying with an array of clients. She joined and became active on the Membership Committee of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and served in a host of leadership positions within NAWBO over the years, the American Society of Training and Development and Power of Connections.

In 2007, she joined forces with D. Mike Smith, of Eagleville, whom she had worked with when he was the President of the Lu Lu Shriners in 2003.  The pair developed a series of workshops and Public Speaking Boot Camps, helping individuals get over their fear of public speaking and master communication techniques.  Ms. Sherf, who had gone through the Toastmasters public speaking program, enjoyed working with start-ups and non-profit organizations.

Ms. Sherf wrote regularly for The Chestnut Hill Local newspaper and Life on the Hill magazine.  She also enjoyed writing and posting to her blog at CommunicationsPro.com/blog.

In 2009, Ms. Sherf co-authored a book with her then 80-year-old father, Charles T. Sherf, about horseback riding with him in the Wissahickon Valley when she was a member of the Philadelphia Saddle Club.  The book titled “A Cowboy Mission…The Best Sermons are Lived Not Preached” was used in workshops  for another ventured Capture Life Stories.

In the fall of 2012 she published and promoted a team building cookbook titled XXXXXXX.  In it she profiled area chefs and restaurateurs, writing about how they built their teams and the business side of running a restaurant.

Ms. Sherf and her husband enjoyed RVing over the years, and would make an annual trip to Florida to visit family and friends.  Family was a big part of her life.  She kept an organized card folder, sending birthday and anniversary cards to more than 100 individuals annually.

The couple shared an unusual modern home – a former art studio – where they enjoyed hosting family gatherings and parties.

“We lived in this spectacular space every day so we were used to it.  But when others would come to our home they would marvel and ask for tours,” she said in a newspaper article about the changes made to the home over time.

“Live Well, Love Much, Laugh Often” was one of her favorite sayings.  She noted several near death experiences over the course of her life that taught her to do all three.  When she was 8 she nearly drowned in an undertow in Ocean City, New Jersey.  When she was 21, upon hearing the news of the death of a high school classmate, she opted not to go to a wedding with her then boyfriend.  He was killed in a car accident returning from a wedding.

Ms. Sherf was also passionate gardener and cook.

“I apprenticed and served as Sous Chef to my longtime friend, Gina Pio Cossman of the Pio Wine family.  Gina graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and taught me how to cook in the early years of my marriage.  Through her, I learned how to pair good food and wine and the importance of celebrating with family and friends,” Sherf noted in a press release for her cookbook that was dedicated jointly to Ms. Pio and to Susan Pizzano, who was a Chestnut Hill resident and activist who created a Meatloaf Mania contest that Ms. Sherf won in 2001.

“When I heard Mayor Ed Rendell was a judge, I created a meatloaf that tasted like a cheesesteak and I won the contest,” she said, recounting that she traveled far and wide that winter (2001) re-creating her creation and using it as a fundraiser for a variety of causes.

Many remember how she would invite ‘ her orphans’ to holiday dinners and summer barbecues.

“There would always be a few new faces at her Christmas dinners.  They were always interesting individuals she had “collected along the way,” said her longtime friend, Rev. Sandra Strauss, whom Ms. Sherf adopted in the late 90s when they were both working on statewide recycling issues.  “She was like a sister.”

When the  kitchen oven broke just before Christmas in 2003, Ms. Sherf held Crockpot Christmas, writing about it for the local newspaper.  The following year, with the oven still not replaced, they started what would become a longtime tradition of ordering Chinese food from Cin Cin in Chestnut Hill.

“Everybody loved the food and I got to spend time with my guests instead of slaving over a hot oven,” she said.  “It was a lovely tradition we all came to embrace.”

Besides the many photo scrapbooks and camping journals, she kept a scrapbook of thank you cards from her family and friends.

“It is huge and jam packed with cards and notes from people and photographs from parties she hosted through the years,” said her husband.  Sherf was proud of the role she played in helping raise her three nieces and three nephews.  She also babysat for Ethan and Scott Rochman of Wyndmoor from the time they were toddlers to teens.

“The boys didn’t watch TV, so we would do arts and crafts and write stories or jump on their trampoline.  Fooseeball was also big in the evenings.  I’m so proud of the young men they have become,” she said at Scott’s Bar Mitzvah in 2013.

After covering the Chestnut Hill Friends new Meetinghouse starting in 2010, Ms. Sherf started attending the Meeting and was active on the Hospitality Committee, coordinating Third Sunday Lunches.

A Celebration of Life is planned for XXXX at noon at the swan pond at Morris Arboretum.  Ms. Sherf had written about the swans and enjoyed watching them for hours on end.  Family and friends will then enjoy a meal in her honor at Cin Cin in Chesntut Hill.  A select group of girlfriends and nieces will then go back to her home to divvy up her unique artwork, jewelry, clothes and hats she had collected over the years.

Ms. Sherf is (pre-deceased or survived) by her mother, Barbara A. Sherf, of Somers Point, NJ and her father, Charles T. Sherf of Cherry Hill, NJ.  She is survived by her loving sister Karen Jones and brother-in-law David Jones of Holland, PA, her sister Patrice Hilferty of Sarasota, Florida, and brother Kevin Sherf, of Somers Point, NJ; three nieces, three nephews, her dog and many good friends.  In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to one of the Golden Retriever rescue organizations listed above or the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting.