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Sep 2, 2010 10:47 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Cheryl "Toot" Crippen Munoz of the Shinnecock Indian Nation dies at 62

Sep 2, 2010 10:47 AM

Cheryl O. Crippen Muñoz

Cheryl Omega (née Crippen) Muñoz of the Shinnecock Indian Nation died on August 28 at Southampton Hospital after a long illness. She was 62.

Born February 28, 1948, she was the youngest of 11 children born to Arthur and Alvilda Crippen. Affectionately known as “Toot,” she also acquired a number of other nicknames in her lifetime: her Dad called her his “Tootian”; at the local at 7-Eleven she was known as “cousin” by some of the employees; some preferred her middle name, Omega; and others called her “Consuela” or “Tootie Fruitee.” But, Toot was the name that stuck, given to her by her older brother Mike, family recalled, after a fast car ride when she was 2 years old, during which she shouted at him, “You better slow down, boy!”

Appropriately, she grew up to heed the toot of Amtrak trains, spending 27 years with the company. She was fond of saying that she walked across the country for a living, family noted, and her years at Amtrak led to many lifelong friendships with coworkers and patrons of the railroad, including former senator and now U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Washington insider Pete Rose.

Survivors described her as a Shinnecock celebrity who could find the humor in every experience and was known to fall into laughing fits on a moment’s notice. She loved a broad spectrum of music, played loud, and was rumored to have blown out every speaker she ever owned. She loved vibrant colors, family recalled, and wampum jewelry, painted leather, jeweled earrings, tie-dyed and beaded clothing, and “bling,” which they said spoke volumes about her artistic sensibilities. Her home was filled with color, survivors said—purples, pinks, bright oranges and especially fuchsia, her color of choice—colorful music, colorful people, colorful thoughts, and lots of laughter.

A regular on the powwow trail, from the Crow Nation of Montana to the Seminole of Florida, she was possessed of a caring nature that led her to befriend many people across the continent. Her heart was always open to those in need, family said, even in the waning moments of her life she proposed to take with her on her final journey the pain of her grand-niece, who had just gone through double organ transplants.

She is survived by her husband, Daniel Muñoz; a daughter, Kia Aloni Gorden and her husband Rana “Iffy” Irfran; two brothers, Arthur Lee “Mike” Crippen and Wayne Crippen and his wife Lea Leite; four sisters, Joan Williams, Roma Niles, Laurie and her husband Leroy Saunders, and Beverly and her husband Robert Jensen; two aunts, Harriett Crippen Gumbs and Florence Crippen; two stepdaughters, Daniella Muñoz and Johnetta Gorden; two stepsons, Milton Muñoz and Leon Gorden; a brother-in-law, Donald Williams Sr.; three sisters-in-law, Shirley Crippen and Annette Crippen; her godmother, Gloria Smith; an adopted grandson, Montrese Brown; several step-grandchildren; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews and extended family.

She was predeceased by both parents—most recently her mother Alvilda Crippen, who died in April—a brother, Thom Crippen, and a sister, Carmen Crippen Murphy.

Visitation was on August 31 at the Brockett Funeral Home in Southampton. A funeral service was held on September 1 at the Shinnecock Presbyterian Church, with the Reverend Michael Smith officiating. Interment followed at Shinnecock Cemetery.

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This article speaks volumes about our beloved Toot - very well put. Toot was the epitome of the Shinnecock woman - proud, confident, a true leader, fun-loving and a pillar of strength for family, friends and, especially, her people of the Shinnecock Nation. Things will never be the same without her, but her spirit will carrying us on until we meet again. This is a huge loss. Toot, you will be sorely missed, but never, ever forgotten!
By unelana (29), North Wales PA on Sep 3, 10 11:37 AM