Dr. Chera Lee Sayers Erbaş, 61, of Palm Coast, Florida, peacefully passed away on January 8, 2021 from stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, surrounded by the love and support of her family.
Chera was born on April 14, 1959 to her proud parents, Vernon and Shirley Sayers. Born and raised in East Lansing, Michigan, Chera was a curious, vibrant and loving child. While attending East Lansing High School, Chera was deeply involved in school clubs and gatherings, and was universally regarded by her classmates as a fun, curious, kind and caring person. A genuine friend to everyone she met, she kept in touch with many of her childhood friends throughout her life. She excelled academically in all subjects, particularly in mathematics, and graduated high school with high honors in 1977.
Raised a proud Spartan fan, Chera enrolled at Michigan State University, and graduated with an economics degree in 1981. At MSU, Chera’s professors were consistently impressed by her talent, curiosity and intellect, and encouraged her to apply to graduate school. After being accepted to several top 10 programs, Chera enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, Madison to pursue her PhD in economics. She completed her doctoral dissertation under the mentorship of William A. “Buz” Brock, a pioneer in chaos theory and nonlinearity. Described by many colleagues as astoundingly bright and brilliant, she was a leading expert on chaos theory within her field.
Upon earning her PhD in 1986, Dr. Sayers began her career in academia, moving around between appointments before landing at the University of Houston. She later worked for Commodities Futures Exchange Commission before returning to academia. At American University, she helped restructure the economic curriculum for postgraduates. Later in her career, she founded her consulting business, Economic Consulting for Litigation. As an expert witness, she conducted employment damages valuations for legal disputes. During her career, Dr. Sayers also published a number of professional and academic journal articles on complex topics including chaos theory and multivariate nonlinear forecasting.
Chera was a loving mother to Serra (b. 1993) and Ayşe (b. 2000). Her daughters will always remember her for how intensely she adored and cherished them, how fiercely she protected them, the passion for which she fought and advocated for them, and for her emphatic support through all their journeys and successes. Her daughters honor her for giving them their passionate zest for life, motivational drive, and explosive laughter, and blame her entirely for becoming so headstrong and relentlessly stubborn.
Chera was known for her vivacious and contagious laugh that never seemed to stop, and whose intense volume would, for better or worse, turn heads everywhere she went. There was never a dull moment with Chera - she was full of surprises throughout her life, and her daughters have found themselves continually surprised by her even after her death. The life of the party, she had an incredible sense of humor, and had an unbelievable ability to find joy in even the darkest moments. To the amazement and delight of her family, she continued to radiate her boundless joy, light, and laughter until her dying breath.
Chera lived fearlessly, curating a life full of wild and fascinating stories that kept people laughing for hours. An avid explorer, Chera traveled to the furthest corners of the globe, visiting dozens of countries during her life. One of her greatest passions was scuba diving, and she traveled far and wide to discover the rich life that exists within our planet's oceans.
Perhaps the most moving thing about Chera was her positive outlook on life and her gratitude for every day she spent on this earth. Despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer, she remained a bright light and refused to let her diagnosis rule her life and her outlook. At a time when she would have absolutely been justified in being selfish and morose, she was giving, loving and joyful. Her children aspire to be even half the woman she was in these respects.
Chera is survived by her parents, Vernon & Shirley Sayers, her daughters, Serra (Davis) & Ayşe Erbaş, their father, S. Nuri Erbaş, her partner, Barry Lenk, her brother and sister-in-law, David and Carol Sayers, their children, Erin (Daniel, Bentley, Blakely) & Lynn (Brad), her beloved dog, Baby, and grand-dog, Luna. Chera is also survived by dozens of dear friends, near and far, all of whom would be impossible to list.
Chera was a beauty, a joy, and the sun at the center of our universes. She is deeply missed by all who had the pleasure and privilege of knowing her.
Though it is impossible to capture Chera’s vibrancy in a single sentence, one of her favorite Turkish Proverbs does a pretty good job:
“For the mad man, every day is a holiday.”