Among the highlights of employee benefits consultant Cher Bumps' career is when she met President George W. Bush in Oklahoma City, in September 2008.
When Bumps' vice president fielded an advance call from the White House while she and Bumps were traveling in Asia, she assumed it was from the law offices that occupied the former White House Restaurant in northwest Oklahoma City.
Turns out it wasn't the interim director of the Small Business Administration whose pending visit the White House originally touted, but President Bush who wanted to promote health savings accounts (HSAs) with Bumps and four other select industry observers.
“He was extremely charming,” said Bumps, who at the subsequent meeting respectfully reminded the president that he didn't need the HSA card he said he carried in his pocket, because he had health care for life.
Bumps, who said she never intended to own her own company, today has 18 employees and 300 clients across 26 states. Her firm was the first in Oklahoma to administer tax-favored flexible spending accounts for medical and dependent care expenses.
From her offices in The Oil Center on Northwest Expressway, Bumps recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about her professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your roots.
A: I was born Cheryl Anne Elizabeth Catherine Snellenberger, and grew up, with sisters two and a half years and 10 years older, in Catholic schools in southern Indiana — in Bruceville, which had a population of 200 then. Our mother, who worked as an office manager for a pediatrician, died when I was 19 following a five-year battle with cancer. I lost my father, who worked mostly as an accountant for a manufacturing shop, to heart disease when I was 40. It was my dad who, when I was 4 or 5, started calling me “Cher.” My best friend was my (maternal) grandmother, who lived right down the street from us.
At age 3, I'd get out of bed, walk out the back door and to her house. I was there all the time.
Q: How was it attending a Catholic all-girls high school?
A: I was mischievous, but was a good student. My mother grounded me for Bs. I sang in the choir, though it wasn't my forte, and served as president of the student council.
Q: And college?
A: I went to Saint Mary's College, the sister school for Notre Dame, but transferred after two years to Indiana State to be closer to my mother because she was sick. I wanted to go into the Peace Corps, but she made me go to college, where I studied sociology and met my former husband.