Chihiro “Cherry” Enoki, who shared a Daytime Emmy nomination this year for her editing work on the pubTV show Design Squad, died in a fall while climbing California’s Mount Shasta Nov. 28 . She was 33.
Enoki had worked on WGBH shows including Nova, American Experience, Postcards from Buster and Fetch!, as well as Discovery Channel projects and the 1999 film God of Vampires.
Enoki was on the mountain with two other climbers. Siskiyou County’s sheriff’s office said the three were on the southwest side at about 11,300 feet in an area known as “The Heart.” Her two companions reported that around 8:30 a.m. Enoki slipped and fell hundreds of feet, hitting several large rocks. She sustained major head injuries, and they were unable to revive her.
Producer Chris Schmidt of Powderhouse Productions in Somerville, Mass., is a longtime friend and colleague. He recalls meeting her about 11 years ago, soon after Enoki graduated from college. “I took her on and tried to get her started, not knowing she’d turn into one of the best editors you could imagine,” Schmidt says.
She was fearless in many ways, Schmidt says. “A lot of people who didn’t know her well thought she was a bad-ass, a hard-charging type. But she was also a very vulnerable person, very prone to getting hurt.”
Enoki thrived in situations where others might have blanched. Schmidt recalls a story the two did for Discovery Channel on the University of Tennessee Anthropological Research Facility—dubbed the “body farm”—where researchers study cadavers in various states of decomposition.
“Here she was, maybe 23 or 24 . . . surrounded by rotted, bloating corpses,” Schmidt says. “She was somebody who could see the crazy humor there, as well as be touched by the impact on the people involved. Most people wouldn’t be able to deal with it.”
John Warren agrees that Enoki possessed a unique personality and was “fiercely independent” in both her personal and professional life. Warren, of Los Angeles, worked with her at WGBH on the children’s show Fetch!. Public broadcasting will miss his friend’s talents and personality, he said.
“She was a great person for breaking the hidebound PBS mold,” he says. “PBS needs more people like her who don’t take things so seriously.’’
A recent high point in her career was the Daytime Emmy nomination for WGBH’s Design Squad, in which high school contestants tackle engineering challenges for an actual client. “She’s very much one of those people who would be very cynical about pomp and circumstance, but when she was the focus of it, she loved it. She was really excited.”
Copyright 2008 American University