Cheryl Theresa Speed

Cheryl Theresa Speed

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Cheryl Theresa Speed, age 55, of Stephens City, Virginia, passed away on February 4, 2024, in Washington, DC, succumbing to complications related to a pre-natal congenital heart condition. Cheryl was born on July 12, 1968, in Needham, Massachusetts, and baptized at St. James Catholic Church in Boston, MA, on July 14, 1968. Cheryl is survived by her sister Kellie Biggins (husband, William), many relatives in Massachusetts, Maine, and California, and an army of close friends too numerous to mention. She was preceded in death by her father, John Thomas Speed, and her mother, Maureen Isabel (McDevitt) Speed, both of Massachusetts.

A New Englander through and through, Cheryl deeply loved her family and their roots in the Boston area. She was also an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan.

Cheryl attended high school at Ursuline Academy (Class of 1987) in Dedham, MA, Northeastern University in Boston, and graduated from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, with a degree in Political Science (Class of 1991). She maintained close friendships from each of these eras of her life.

Cheryl lived life intentionally, knowing from childhood that her days were numbered. Her first heart surgery was just four days after birth and she would spend the rest of her 55 years managing her complicated health issues. She made yearly trips to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where her team of doctors knew her best – not only as patient, but as friend. Defying all odds, Cheryl was one of the only people with her congenital heart condition to live into adulthood.

Cheryl was a private, strong, independent, and courageous person who never wanted to be defined by or limited by her health issues. Instead, she lived life to the fullest, cultivated friendships from all walks of life, helped those in need, and kept most of her sufferings to herself. Perhaps because of her unique journey, Cheryl was acutely aware that life is a gift, worthy of respect, and to be lived with purpose. She credits her mother – her first and fiercest advocate – for her fighting spirit.

During a trip to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 1990 – A.K.A. “the best summer of my life” – Cheryl’s passion for making a difference took root during her epic internship with NYPLC. She made life-long friends that summer, and this experience inspired her future work, volunteer efforts, and ultimately her relocation to Northern Virginia in 2003.

Among the places she worked include Massachusetts Citizens for Life, the Archdiocese of Boston, and The National Committee for a Human Life Amendment. Cheryl served the last 20 years at the Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, where she made a positive impact on the lives of many and acquired dear friends along the way.

For nearly 20 years, Cheryl lived in the Fairlington area of Arlington, Virginia, where she was a member of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. Among her church activities, Cheryl served as a Eucharistic minister, spearheaded efforts to help pregnant women in need through Gabriel Project, and was active with the women’s group, Walking With Purpose.

More recently, Cheryl moved about an hour and a half away to Stephens City, VA, where she proudly transitioned from condo owner to single-family-home owner. She made friends quickly in her neighborhood and in her new parish, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Front Royal. Cheryl served on the board of Women of St. John’s, taught religious education classes, volunteered at the local pregnancy resource center, and recently joined a Gourmet Cooking Club.

An avid traveler, Cheryl visited numerous foreign countries, on at least 5 continents. She joined the exclusive club of visitors to all 50 states. Her goal was 50 by the age of 50, but she did it in 48.

When she wasn’t volunteering or socializing, Cheryl was fostering dogs (adopting two in recent years, Maisey and Leo), devouring books and news, and tending to home improvements, including a new kitchen which was recently completed.

Cheryl spent about a decade as a volunteer with the Kennedy Center. She made great friends and saw almost every show. Cheryl especially loved her time volunteering at events where numerous celebrities, including Lady Gaga, had the privilege of meeting her.

As many can attest, Cheryl made friends and built community for herself, often bringing together people from different parts of her life. She was usually the first to remember a birthday and organize a celebration. She was a thoughtful and generous hostess, and became known for her St. Patrick’s Day parties, priest appreciation dinners, election and debate night watch parties, and more.

Cheryl could be defined in many ways depending on how you knew her. Universally, she was loved for her sharp wit and wicked sense of humor, as well as her kindness, generosity, loyalty, courageous spirit, charitable heart, and keen sense of justice and mercy. Unassuming and notably humble, Cheryl would probably dislike that those of us who love her are gushing about her. We have little doubt she will enact some sort of good-natured revenge, if possible, from her heavenly home.

One of her favorite quotes – which she kept at home, at work, and also posted on FaceBook – is from Archbishop Charles Chaput:

“Life is short. We’ll be forgotten by everyone but God. Our home is heaven, and the politics of this world won’t matter there. Charity, justice, courage, mercy – these are the virtues, or their absence, that will shape our eternity. These are the things that really matter. So, to the degree we remember where we’re finally headed, we remain sane.”

When asked days before her passing how she would like to be remembered, Cheryl, without hesitation, stated, “A Catholic, pro-life woman who defended her faith.” And, the final words Cheryl spoke, moments before her passing, were, “Thank you. Thank you.” Even in death, Cheryl was grateful for the life God gave her and for the love of family and friends.

Cheryl will be deeply missed. No doubt she will spend her time in heaven much like she did on earth – helping, praying, loving, laughing. Probably making sarcastic cracks here and there, if that’s allowed.

Please join us in celebrating Cheryl and praying her into her final home:

Visitation, Rosary, and Irish Wake will be held Monday, February 12 from 5 – 8pm at Cunningham Turch Funeral Home in Alexandria, Virginia.

Her funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, February 13, at 12 Noon, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Final interment immediately following Mass at Fairfax Memorial Park in Fairfax, Virginia (Garden of the Crucifix section).

In lieu of flowers, Cheryl expressed that it would be a beautiful gift for donations to be made to a charity she long supported, St. Anthony Shrine Lazarus Ministries, helping bury those without means:

Condolences on behalf of the family gratefully accepted by Cheryl’s sister, Kellie Biggins: 651 Okeechobee Blvd, #1001, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Cheryl, dear daughter, sister, niece, cousin, and friend, may your soul rest in eternal peace and perpetual light shine upon you.

Click Here To Donate To St. Anthony of the Shrine

Offer Condolence for the family of Cheryl Theresa Speed


Cunningham Turch Funeral Home

811 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314


5:00pm - 5:30pm


Cunningham Turch Funeral Home

811 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314


5:30pm - 8:00pm

Mass of Christian Burial

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

1417 West Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22302


12:00pm - 1:00pm


Fairfax Memorial Park

9900 Braddock Road, Fairfax, VA 22032


2:00pm -

Condolence Messages

  1. New Eve Maternity Home, Cabell Angle, President says:

    New Eve Maternity Home in Winchester, VA is sorry for your loss. Cheryl had been a loving and faithful babysitter for our mothers and babies. May God grant her eternal rest. We have made a donation to the St. Anthony Shrine in her memory. God bless you all.

    Cabell Angle, President

  2. OPM MASB says:

    OPM MASB was fortunate enough to work with Cheryl Speed the many years she was with DHHS/ACF. She will be greatly missed and we were honored to donate to the Lazarus fund in her memory.

    With love and well wishes to Cheryl’s loved ones.

    Warmest regards, OPM MASB Team

  3. Karin Maurer Engstrom says:

    It just doesn’t seem real that you are gone. So many special memories of Cheryl and all her friends at Northeastern University and beyond. She has touched my life in such a special way. She was the first one to take me under her wing and show me all the hospitals of Boston. She knew that I was in the nursing program at NU and also a very shy and impressionable freshman. She shared with me the knowledge she had of all the great hospitals in Boston. It meant so much to me that she took me under her wing and shared her experiences with me and always had a positive attitude about her life. She never once said ‘feel bad for me’. She always took life in stride and enjoyed it to the fullest. You are so very missed my friend!

  4. Glenda Harden says:

    My sincere condolences to the family. Cheryl was a sweet and witty lady. She will be missed by all that loved her and enjoy talking with her. Family take comfort in knowing that we share in this loss with you because she was a blessing to many. May all our hearts find comfort in knowing that Cheryl is in perfect peace and found rest from her labor.
    God bless you family and may God blessings continuously be with us all.

  5. Junius Scott and Juanita Mitchell-Scott says:

    Cheryl’s family and friends are in our prayers as all of us grieve the loss of our friend and colleague. We were blessed that Cheryl included us in her journey and so grateful that she was a part of ours. She was kind, smart and caring and will always be in our hearts and memories as one of the very best.

    Junius and Juanita

  6. Michele Allen says:

    My family loved Cheryl and will miss her. We offer condolences to all of those who cared about her—family, friends and especially Kellie.

  7. Janis K Brown says:

    My sincere condolences to Cheryl’s family and friends. I was blessed to have had the opportunity to know Cheryl as a colleague and friend. In reflecting on the many conversations over the years, it was her quick wit and humor that I will remember. As many have said she was always looking out for us at CB and going the extra mile. Her caring nature was always present. She was a special person, and I will miss her, but I know she is getting her angel wings to watch over us. Kellie and friends, prayers to all as we grieve our loss.

  8. Danielle LeDuc Doyle says:

    To Cheryl’s friends, family, and all her loved ones. Having met Cheryl as a Freshman at Northeastern University, I have many memories of the quick-witted spunky college student who wanted to be everyone’s friend. She always wanted to be where the action was! Having the privilege of being roommates with Cheryl not just once, but twice, we had the opportunity to grow and mature together. I marvel at the woman she became, so full of life and adventure, despite many challenges that would have hindered many. Although time and distance changed the nature of our relationship over the years, it never changed how much Cheryl’s loyal friendship meant to me. Thirty seven years is simply not long enough. I will always remember Cheryl and the impact she has had on my life. She will be missed.

  9. Donna and John Cole says:

    Prayers to all the family and friends of this
    extraordinary woman.
    Cheryl will truly be missed,
    and live in our heart and memories.

  10. Tammy White says:

    My sincere sympathies to Cheryl’s family and friends. She was a true inspiration and one of the kindest people I have ever known. I am very lucky to have had her as a supportive, smart, funny, genuine, and steadfast colleague.
    I am unable to attend services, but my thoughts are with you all.
    Tammy White
    CB colleague

  11. Liz Darling says:

    Cheryl was an inspiration to all who truly knew her. I’m blessed to have worked within her orbit while at HHS/ACF. Rest in peace and love dear girl.

  12. Linda Barnett says:

    I enjoyed getting to know Cheryl a number of years ago when we carpooled from Fairlington in to ACF. As I got to know her, I learned to enjoy her acerbic wit and appreciate the values she held close. She was an example to many of us and will be missed by those who knew. Cheryl was a shining example of a life well lived.

  13. Darlene D. Marcoe says:

    I would like to express my condolences to Cheryl’s family, friends, and colleagues. I will truly miss her. I worked with Cheryl on a regular basis and have always admired her sincerity, transparency, and professionalism. She will be greatly missed.

  14. Michelle (Mimi) Morin Debatis says:

    Thank you, Cheryl, for the blessing of your friendship! You continue to be so very special to me! Thank you to all who helped her through this journey and who gave her comfort and strength along the way! Although her Earthly absence is palpable and painful, her Heavenly presence already radiates warmth and love on us all! My condolences to her sister Kellie and her extended family as well as to all who were so very lucky to know her and have her in their lives! We will ensure her memory lives on!

  15. Prince Kay Badru says:

    A wonderful and very helpful woman. Funny and diligent, faithful and service. May your beautiful soul rest in peace. Cheryl is resting in the Lord, waiting for the trumpet to receive her crown in Glory. Amen.

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