Cheryl Atkins Treese – August 13, 1946-May 5, 2017
Cheryl Atkins Treese died May 5, 2017 at the age of 71, after a long battle with cancer. She was preceded in death by her parents, A. J. Atkins and Mary Faye Atkins, a sister, Gloria, and her husband of 51 years, Tommy Treese. She is survived by her three sons, Robbie (Traci) of Auburn, AL, Brett (Michele) of Hamilton, VA, and Del (Sadie)of Pittsburgh, PA, a sister Brenda Atkins Wile of Colorado Springs, CO, and seven grandchildren, Jackson and Katie of Auburn, AL, Lily of Hamilton, VA, Hermione, Isabella, Josephine, and Killian of Pittsburgh, PA.
Cheryl was a 1964 graduate of A. G. Parrish High School. She attended Auburn University before marrying her high school sweetheart, Tommy, in 1965. The couple settled in Selma and soon began their family.
Without ever admitting it, Cheryl was a lifelong advocate for the youth of Selma. She led the junior high youth fellowship at First Presbyterian Church in the early 1970’s. It was there that the Cheryl and Tommy decided to add a foster child, the former Katie Herring, to their growing family. In the 1980’s, Cheryl hired many local teenagers for their first jobs at Taco Bell. In the 1990’s she began working at Morgan Academy, first simply as the cafeteria manager. It wasn’t long before the students and faculty realized she was no ordinary lunch lady. She coached the dance team and drama club, leading both to great honors at state competitions and nationals.
Her first love was always the theater and she had a prominent career in the local community scene, first as a founding member of the Citadel Players, then with a long stint working with Encore! Community Theater. She spent many summers working stage crew, designing, building, and painting scenery and doing publicity. In 1994, she overcame a crippling case of stage fright and performed in Steel Magnolias by Robert Harling. The role of Ouiser Boudreaux may have been made famous by Shirley MacLaine, but Cheryl truly was Ouiser, an honest, brash, loyal friend with a heart of gold, Cheryl stood toe to toe with Selma’s own first lady of the theater, the late Kitti Windham, and gave the performance of a lifetime.
She never acted again but her greatest contribution to Selma’s art scene was directing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. For a decade beginning around 1993, she would cast local children, rehearse every Saturday for 2 months, and teach us all over again the true meaning of Christmas. It was her gift to the city she loved.
Visitation will be on Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 10:00am followed by a service at 11:00am at Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home. A brief committal service will follow at New Live Oak Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests you make donations to one of the following:
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Auburn University Dept. of Theatre
American Cancer Society
Living River: A Retreat on the Cahaba