Cheryl Richards, 78, was born April 28, 1945, in St. Louis, Missouri, daughter of Daniel and Margaret Walker. Cheryl was married to Stanley Richards for 57 years. Cheryl leaves behind her two sons, Todd (and wife Sheri) and Eric; as well as her grandchildren, T.J. (and wife Marissa), Alex, Olivia, Laila; and finally, her great-grandchildren, Milla and Cooper. Cheryl worked as a special education teacher in the Tucson Unified School District for nearly 12 years, caring for the most vulnerable, and often forgotten, children in the school system.
As a child, Cheryl grew up in the foothills of Tucson Arizona, far away from any neighbors, and as a result had few friends growing up. But in those foothills of the desert, she developed a deep love of animals, and the desire to take care of each of them. From the horses she raised, to the chickens she fed, to the dogs and various stray animals she would attempt to take in - she loved caring for those that couldn’t care for themselves. This desire to defend the vulnerable carried through to her adulthood.
Cheryl earned her master’s in special education, and later a master’s in nursing, which she applied to help the neediest in our public schools, but also later in her own home. For nearly 30-years, Cheryl and her husband took in the most involved children as foster-care parents. These were the forgotten children; all of them unable to walk, most requiring g-tubes and many requiring almost constant oxygen and surveillance. She cared for them as her own. Most of them were predicted to live perhaps a year or two – Cheryl proved the experts wrong when many lived several years, and in some cases, decades.
Cheryl continued her love and care of animals throughout her life; filling her home with dogs, cats, gerbils, turtles, birds, and any other living things that needed her care. Cheryl was the defender of the innocent and the vulnerable. The world has lost a great champion, but she’s left a lasting mark on many lives and set a sterling example for us to follow. She will be missed sorely.