September 21, 2020 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
“Going through life, Cheryl was always the one who held the family together,” said David Massey, about his wife of 36 years. “She really just gave of herself to everybody.”
Cheryl’s compassion for others led her to advance her training in the counseling field. She is a member of Liberty University’s Class of 2020, having earned her Master of Arts in Human Services Counseling through Liberty University Online Programs before passing away unexpectedly on April 8.
David, their two children, and several grandchildren recently made the trip from St. Petersburg, Fla., to Lynchburg so they could receive Cheryl’s diploma in person and honor her hard work and sincere devotion to counseling others.
The family said that ever since she was young, Cheryl had a gift for listening, expressing concern, and caring for everyone she encountered. In 2012, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development from Eckerd College of St. Petersburg before beginning her graduate degree with Liberty in 2019.
“She privately counseled everybody,” said her daughter, Danielle. “I have had some of her friends texting me saying how much they miss her counsel and are always thinking about what Cheryl would be telling them.”
After committing her life to the Lord on a trip to Hawaii in 1989, Cheryl lived the rest of her days on Earth with a determination and dedication for serving people that was evident in whatever she did.
She was heavily involved in serving her congregation at St. Petersburg Presbyterian Church, along with her husband. The couple met during their high school years in the same town.
“We worked at Wendy’s together,” David said. “This past June, it would have been 40 years since our first date.”
Aside from her faith in Christ, Cheryl’s favorite things in life were family, Christmas, and family counseling. She loved hosting birthday parties for her six grandchildren and was constantly expressing love and care for them and her two children, her parents, and her three siblings. She had a yearlong Christmas countdown at home that began the day after each Christmas.
“January 1, she would begin buying gifts for people for the next Christmas,” Danielle said.
Liberty had planned to recognize Cheryl during the 2020 Commencement, which was postponed to last weekend and then canceled in August due to COVID-19 restrictions for Virginia.