'Singer, actress, speech therapist, mentor, and philanthropist' Cheryl Gucwa Kaiser passed away at home surrounded by her beloved family. Cheryl was raised in Richmondtown with her five siblings. She was a singer, actress, speech therapist, mentor, and philanthropist. She graduated from St. Patrick's School, where she was given a first-class education by the Sisters of St. Dorothy. She was an exemplary student and enjoyed everything school had to offer: shows and musicals, choir, art and science fairs, and the sacraments. She discovered her great passion for music and comedy in the eighth grade when she was cast as Maria in the "The Sound of Music", eventually leading her to a major in theatre at Wagner College, and an MA in Drama in England, supported by a Rotary International Graduate Fellowship. While in college, she competed in the Miss Staten Island Pageant coming in 1st Runner-up. She always joked that she "won the top prize," as she met her future husband Glenn Kaiser, the pianist at the auditions. Cheryl became a member of Actor's Equity Association and enjoyed a professional career performing leading roles in regional musicals. She changed careers, graduated from Columbia University at the top of her class with an MS in Speech-language pathology. She found exciting work at the Mother Franciska Elementary School, Arrochar. There she was able to introduce K-8 children with disabilities to the best combination of innovative speech services, while incorporating the performing arts. She also mentored many Hill students to become Speech Pathology majors, while training many St Patrick's students to become church cantors. Her favorite role, however, was as Mother to her two children, Max and Grace Mary, and wife to her husband and musical partner, Glenn. She enjoyed bragging about them and their musical, academic, and personal accomplishments. She frequently told them she loved them because she felt this was the most important thing you could ever say to your children. For over or over 40 years, her shining soprano voice rang out in St. Patrick's Church, with her husband as organist and conductor of the choirs. The Adult and Youth Choirs became treasured second families. She sang at more than 1000 funerals, weddings, and weekly Masses in her church. She touched many hearts with her warmth and compassionate artistry. Her yearbook quote was, "God respects me when I work, but He loves me when I sing." Cheryl loved the entire St. Patrick's parish family, the Sisters, Priests, faculty, staff, and all the parishioners, and most especially anyone who volunteered. Cheryl also had a devotion to Servant of God Fr. Vincent Capodanno, M.M., Vietnam War hero and native Staten Islander. She and her prayer circle prayed for his eventual canonization. A proud moment in Cheryl's life was when her dear sister Nancy Rose pronounced her vows to the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri after years as an officer in the US Army. Cheryl is survived by her husband and children, her father John Gucwa, her siblings Bonnie (Charles, deceased) Vaccaro, Sr. Nancy Rose Gucwa, OSB, Helen Gucwa, Robert (Laura) Gucwa, Cynthia (Tom) Ostrowski, her sisters-in-law Donna Boyle (Donald), Karen (Louis) Nuccio, and many nieces and nephews. She is also survived by her life-long friends, Denise, Rich, and Leslie who were family. Cheryl loved flowers while she was living, but did not want flowers at her funeral when so many charities need the contributions. Instead, she asked that donations be sent to her two favorite charities: St. Patrick's School, 3560 Richmond Road, Staten Island, 10306 – write in the memo section "music and theatre"; or The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, 31970 State Highway P, Clyde, MO 64432. (BenedictineSisters.org
). Funeral arrangements will be handled by her good friends Dave and Frank at Hanley Funeral home. Visiting will be on Saturday from 2-6 pm at Hanley. A prayer vigil with visitation afterwards will be held on Sunday evening at 7:30pm in St. Patrick's Church, 53 St. Patrick's Place, and All Are Welcome. Mass of Christian Burial will be on Monday at 10:00 in St Patrick's Church, with interment at Resurrection Cemetery.
Published by Staten Island Advance from Nov. 18 to Nov. 19, 2021.