Cheryl Theresa Holloway Duguid
November 30, 1947 – January 15, 2022
Cheryl Theresa Duguid was fire. A spark of light and personal power, she was radiant. Her light filled the room, as her infectious laughter and bright, brilliant smile signaled to all that she was eager for good times with great people. Cheryl had a naturally adventurous spirit, which served her well from her young adulthood, as she contributed to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, to her retirement, when she fearlessly moved to beautiful locales - and in all the years in between, because Cheryl boldly lived life on her terms. Cheryl’s confidence likely derived from her younger years, as she enjoyed a childhood securely nestled in the 1950s-style comforts of Germantown’s African American community.
Though she always claimed Philadelphia as her home, Cheryl’s journey actually began in the city that never sleeps. Born in The Bronx, New York on November 30, 1947 to William “Sonny” Percival Duguid and Carmen Maria Duguid (nee Chisholm), Cheryl lived the first five years of her life in Harlem. Her father was a Finance Officer in the United Nations, and her mother, who had graduated from New York’s Lincoln School for Nurses, was a homemaker. When her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as Carmen studied anesthesiology at the old Woman’s Hospital (later known as Medical College of Pennsylvania), becoming the first African American to graduate from that program as a nurse anesthetist. As Carmen faced the rigors of her program of study, Cheryl was well-cared for by her maternal grandmother, Erneshia Chisholm, lovingly known as Nana, and aunt, Thelma Chisholm Wilson, along with her aunt’s husband, Bobby Wilson, and her two cousins, Carleton Wilson and Diane Wilson.
This commitment to family and multi-generational living continued to anchor Cheryl after her mother remarried Dr. Edward Estis Holloway, a cardiologist, and they moved to the stone Georgian off Lincoln Drive that would become family home not just to the Holloways and Nana but also to their relatives, who looked forward to special holidays at 410 Westview Street. Cheryl was given her step-father’s name and, through the rest of her childhood and college years, was known as Cheryl Holloway. Edward and Carmen broke the color line and enrolled Cheryl in Cecilian Academy. She was the first African American to attend the all-girls private Catholic school. Soon after they married, Edward and Carmen welcomed their baby girl, Michelle Maria Holloway. A quintessential little sister, when Michelle was in elementary school she would sneak halfway down the stairs to peer, eyes wide, into the living room, where Cheryl and her “teeny bopper” friends would play records and dance at the many parties Cheryl hosted.
Both Cheryl and Michelle grew up in a close-knit community of families who shared the same values and interests. Carmen was a mother in Jack and Jill, Inc., along with other Black social organizations popular in 1950s and early 1960s Germantown, including The Lassies and The Continentals. Fully immersed in Philadelphia life, Cheryl returned to New York to visit her father and step-mother, Lena Victoria Duguid, who would take her all over New York City. Cheryl loved the fast-paced, glamorous life of New York, and she often told stories of riding the subway, roaming through the West Village, and visiting the African American enclave of Sag Harbor, New York, where she had her first kiss.
Cheryl also made annual visits to Atlantic City, New Jersey’s African American leisure site, known as Chicken Bone Beach, first with Edward, Carmen, and Michelle, and later with her high school and college friends. Cheryl is pictured with many of those friends in the book Chicken Bone Beach: A Pictorial History of Atlantic City’s Missouri Avenue Beach, a book that commemorates the golden era of this popular destination, when Philadelphians often enjoyed the salt air with celebrities like Sammy Davis, Joe Louis, and Billy Strahorn. Cheryl is pictured in the “Beauties” chapter, where she stands with some of her gorgeous girlfriends, arms around each other, all of them smiling into the sun.
When that picture was taken, Cheryl was a student at Germantown High School, where she graduated in 1965. Following graduation, Cheryl packed up the Mercedes Edward had given her and drove to the oldest historically Black college in the United States, Cheyney State College (now University). She happily settled in her dorm with a roommate she had known since middle school, Antoinette “Toni” Chapman, a dear friend who would become the godmother to Cheryl’s daughter. Cheryl was earning her degree in education when, while on the court at an Omega Psi Phi “Que” Ball at nearby Lincoln University, she met Clive Antony “Tony” Ulen. The two fell in love and started a whirlwind romance that would lead to marriage and the birth of their daughter, Eisa Nefertari Ulen.
In the years that they were just college kids in love, Cheryl and Tony became involved in the growing Black Power Movement of the 1960s. Their commitment to social justice was sincere, and they engaged in public protests and cultural activities that deeply impacted Black life in America. They were friends with activists like Anthony “Tony” Monteiro, Royce Adams, and John and Erika Huggins. As Cheryl and Tony changed the world with their Baby Boomer peers, they also had fun, enjoying parties, concerts, and road trips. They often travelled to Virginia, where Cheryl’s future brother-in-law, Lance Wayne Ulen, and sister-in-law, Brenda Laverne Kennedy (now Maiden), attended college, and to New York to see William and Lena and their children, Erica Shawn Duguid and Brett Mark Duguid.
After their marriage, Cheryl and Tony settled in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he worked for the Human Relations Commission, but they would travel back to Philly and 410 Westview Street nearly every weekend. When she was a homemaker raising Eisa, Cheryl and Tony continued their social justice work, hosting study sessions in their home and giving other activists refuge. When Angela Davis was fleeing the FBI, Cheryl readily agreed that Angela’s sister and brother-in-law should stay in their home. “They’re the only people I ever allowed to sleep in our bed,” she would say. When Fania Davis gave birth to a girl some months after their stay at 2021 Briggs Street, she named her daughter Angela Eisa Davis.
Once Cheryl’s daughter, Eisa, was enrolled at Hansel and Gretel Montessori Nursery School, she returned to her own studies and graduated from Penn State University’s Capitol Campus with her bachelor’s degree in education. She became an English teacher at Harrisburg Middle School, a position she held for some years after she and Tony divorced. Cheryl also took graduate level classes at Lehigh University.
After the Three Mile Island leak in 1979, Cheryl heeded her father’s advice, as William told her to “get my granddaughter and get the hell out of there.” She moved to Columbia, Maryland, where her paternal family now lived, and later moved to Baltimore County. Cheryl started a second career as a school textbook salesperson and, in the 1980s, was one of only a few Black women to work in that capacity. Cheryl excelled in this new role and exceeded sales goals year after year after year. Always encouraging education in young people, she also gave school textbooks as gifts. One year, when she gave a few textbooks to Michelle’s son, James Holloway DeLeon IV, her sister laughed and said, “too bad you aren’t selling cars, Cheryl!”
Cheryl remained in Baltimore County until Eisa earned her own bachelor’s degree at Sarah Lawrence College and finished graduate school at Columbia University. With her daughter now a young woman living on her own in Brooklyn, New York, Cheryl began a series of exciting moves. After some time living in Prince George’s County, Maryland, she packed up her belongings, put them in storage, and moved to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She lived there for several years, enjoying her retirement and working part time selling fine jewelry. After Eisa married Ralph Everett Richardson, Jr. and the two had a son, Ralph Everett Hooper Richardson III, Cheryl moved to Brooklyn and, later, Jersey City, New Jersey, so she could be close to her grandson. Her wanderlust took hold of her once again, and she lived in Placencia, Belize before relocating back to the United States in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cheryl lived in Nevada for about five years, and her last family vacation before the Covid outbreak was to drive through the southwest, first to Hoover Dam and then to Arizona, to visit the Grand Canyon with her daughter and grandson.
With a plan to “move back East to be close to my grandson,” Cheryl was seeking a new home in the Philadelphia area. She looked forward to another decade in her old hometown, with a longer-term goal of moving in with Eisa and her family when she reached her early 80s. Unfortunately, a sudden and devastating renal cancer diagnosis derailed that plan, and her daughter and grandson flew to her side. Under their care at a local Vegas hospital, she rallied and improved for some time; however, the aggressive nature of her stage IV cancer overwhelmed her efforts, and Cheryl passed as she lay in her daughter’s arms, her old friend Toni Chapman by her side, and the soft voice of her sister Michelle soothing her as she crossed over to the other side.
Cheryl was predeceased by her parents and step-father; aunts, Juanita Druscilla Holloway, Thelma Chisholm Wilson, and Olga Patricia Duguid; uncle, Joseph “Jackie” Duguid; her cousins, Carleton Wilson and Diane City; as well her younger cousin, Tony Wilson; and niece, Angelique Maiden. Left to faithfully tend her legacy are her daughter, Eisa Ulen Richardson; son-in-law, Ralph Richardson, Jr.; and grandson, Ralphie Richardson III. Also left to remember her are her step-mother, Lena Duguid; siblings, Michelle Holloway, Erica Duguid, and Brett Duguid; sisters-in-law Rocio Duguid, Brenda Maiden, and Angela Ulen; nieces and nephews, Hans Demitrius Ulen; James Holloway DeLeon IV, along with his wife, Cheryl “Cher” DeLeon, and their son, Langston Wynn Holloway DeLeon; Cecelia Duguid; Chanel Duguid; Courtney Aikens; James “Tre” Aikens III; Marcus Duguid; Paris Duguid; and Bryce Duguid; as well as numerous cousins.
When Cheryl neared the end of a telephone call she would famously say, “bye for now!” Raised a Catholic and rooted in a deep spirituality, Cheryl always assured her daughter that her spirit would live with her always. Cheryl wanted to live, but she passed in peace, filled with a great calm Eisa could feel as she held her close and whispered “I love you, Mommy” in her ear. Now she will radiate always, hot like fire, bright like all the lights in a sky that is quiet yet still powerful at night. We know this goodbye is only for now, and that we will see her again on the other side.