Melt 1/3 cup butter in 10-inch cast iron skillet. Spread 1/2 cup sugar evenly over butter; cook over low heat until sugar is dissloved. Arrange cherries & chopped pecans in skillet; remove from heat & set aside.
Cream remaining 2/3 cups butter; gradually add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt three times. Stir well and add to creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in vanilla and blend well.
Spoon batter evenly over cherries and pecans in skille. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in skillet 10-minute; then invert cake onto a plate. Cool completely. Top with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with cherries and pecan halve, if desired.