Marie Louise Bulifant Cheeley was born June 11, 1929, to L. W. Tazewell and Ethel Mann Bulifant on Suffolk Avenue in Colonial Heights, Virginia and passed on Thursday, November 14, 2019. At an early age her parents moved to Fredericksburg and then Norton, Virginia before returning to Colonial Heights when she was about seven years of age. She attended Colonial Heights Elementary School (Flora M. Hill Elementary School) through the 7th grade and Petersburg High School, graduating in the class of 1946. During her childhood her mother would copy the dresses and curl her hair like the child actress Shirley Temple, and it was stated that many times when shopping in Richmond, parents and other children believed that she was the actress until told otherwise. Marie loved to sing and dance, especially ballet, tap and the Charleston. She danced and sang at the Hotel Fredericksburg, for civic organizations on many occasions and in the Matoaca Minstrel shows. Marie loved her church, Highland United Methodist, where she taught Sunday School for over 40 years. She shared her love of music by directing the children, youth and handbell choirs. Marie was also a director of the Southernaires, a senior singing group that performed throughout the tri-city area for nursing homes, civic organizations, and local and state government, including the State Fair of Virginia. In the spring of 1946 Marie met her husband, Milton Lee Cheeley, at church when he replaced a missing penny in her shoe. Marie was a charter member of the Colonial Heights Opti-Mrs, helped with the first Miss Colonial Heights pageants which were sponsored by the Optimist Club, Petersburg Fraternal Order of Eagles #882 Ladies Auxiliary and the Red Hats. Marie worked for her father at Bulifant Insurance. After her children began school she was employed as a secretary for the Colonial Heights City Public Schools, working at the Colonial Heights Junior High and the Colonial Heights Technical Center for a period of 27 years. Marie continued in the schools as a substitute teacher, secretary and paraprofessional until she was 81 years old. Marie enjoyed her visits with her grand-dogs, Lucy and Sammy. Marie was predeceased by her parents, her husband and sister, Betty Lou Bulifant Humphries. Left to cherish her memory are her son, Tazewell Lee Cheeley, and daughter, Debra Cheeley Bowles (Ray). She was blessed with grandchildren, Vickie Marie Brewer, Phyllis Lee Brewer Fox (Carlton “Bubba”), Laura Ann Brewer Walker (Jacob “Tiny”) and Ryan Blake Cheeley (Geri). The additional grandchildren that stepped into her life are Christopher Ray, Sheree Marie and Richard Wade Bowles. Her great grandchildren are Rebecca Grace Branch, Renee Elizabeth and Elyse Marie Fox, Rachel Elizabeth Walker, William Blake and Vivian Lynn Cheeley, Cameron Wade Bowles and Zaden Walker. Marie had a special niece, Julie Humphries Pond (Doug), and nephews Chris and Heath Humphries, and their children Brandon, Caroline and Eliza. Marie is also survived by her very special friend since age seven, Peggy Baird, cousin, Charlotte Edwards and friend, Marie Cotton. Her service will be at Highland United Methodist Church, 125 E Westover Avenue, Colonial Heights, VA, on Tuesday, November 19, 2019 at 11:00 a.m., with burial at Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg, VA. Visitation will be held at the church on Monday, November 18, 2019, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Highland United Methodist Church, the Alzheimer’s Association (www.ALZ.org) or the ALS Association (www.ALS.org) Arrangements by the Colonial Heights Chapel of the E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes & Crematory, 2033 Boulevard, Colonial Heights, Virginia 23834. Condolences may be registered at www.ealvinsmall.com.
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