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With great sorrow we announce that Cathy Speck passed away on Monday, April 5, 2021 from neuroendocrine cancer. Cathy was born in Davis CA, raised, and graduated high school in her beloved hometown, from where she did not stray far or long, and which was woven into the fabric of her life as she was into the tapestry of Davis. In school she excelled in sports, particularly her passion basketball, and in academics, being co-valedictorian of her senior class. She studied Journalism/Public Relations, Communication Studies, and Vocal Performance at Sacramento City College, Sacramento State, and Chico State, where she also played on the basketball teams until knee injuries forced a change. Her back-burner passion then came to the fore: always known for being an especially wonderful singer (remembered to this day by her teammates, entertaining them singing requests on the bus travelling to games), she began a second chapter on the stage, where her voice could go from softly beautiful to amazingly powerful. She played with several ensembles over the years, most notably since 1993 with Linda Duval in "Duval Speck" and "The Essentials". Throwing out silly prizes to dancers, and with ongoing witty banter, she was the most thoroughly entertaining MC and front person one could have.
Cathy also was well-known for the 24 years she worked at the Davis Food Co-op, starting as a cashier, to Manager on Duty, to Safety Director. Cathy made lasting friendships during her years at the Co-op, a place she loved dearly and where she enjoyed watching many children grow up coming through her line. Her nightly "This Is The Queen!" closing announcements will joyfully live in many memories. Her love of basketball never dimmed, however; even in her final weeks her ears would perk up at the sound of squeaky shoes on a court coming from the TV. More than a fan of the Davis High School Girls Basketball team, she attended their games, encouraging them from the sidelines, giving them handmade gifts and pep talks before games; indeed she was embraced as a mentor and member of the team by their coach Heather Highshoe and she loved it.
Over the years Cathy was involved in many activities and causes, and had friendships in various groups. In each community she was unfailingly kind, easy going, positive, welcoming, and absolutely full of good humor, endearing herself to many and thoroughly enjoying her interactions with others. She spoke openly about her own struggles and accomplishments and made a safe place for others to share their experiences. Cathy was inducted into the Davis Hall of Fame in 2011, awarded the Thong H Huynh Award in 2014, the 2019 Women of the Year Award of the 3rd Congressional District of California, presented a Tedx talk in 2014, and along with Linda Duval was given the "Harmony In Our Lives" award in 2013.
Cathy was second to the youngest of nine siblings, and their father, Eugene Speck, had a career at UC Davis. Her mother, Dorothy, herself a beloved member of the Davis community and namesake of the annual Dorothy Speck Basketball Tournament, passed away from ALS / Lou Gehrig's Disease in 1972 when Cathy was 13. In her own words she was "devastated by the horrific illness and loss of her mother and suffered greatly." After hitting bottom more than once over the years she bounced back with compassion for others and a passion to help others smile and get through their difficult times. It was after helping to care for her brother Larry who passed away from ALS in 2008 (followed by brother Paul from ALS in 2011), that Cathy learned she too had the same rare, familial genetic mutation as her brothers and mother. She then poured herself into raising awareness of this disease and funds for research, her fervent hope being to spare other families from this pain. Her great efforts, aided by so many who came on board to help, certainly made an impact and will carry on. Her annual Speck-Taculars Team at the Sacramento ALS Walk was a sight to see, with Cathy merrily leading the way on her highly decorated trike, the same colorful trike she was well known for riding through the streets and alleys of Davis, taking her "phonetos" and smiling and waving at everyone that passed by. In 2014 she was diagnosed with Stage IV metastasized neuroendocrine cancer and underwent extensive surgery, still determined to enjoy as much as she was able while she could, continuing to play music and attending games. In 2020 she missed performing so much that Duval Speck began making Live Facebook videos which brought her great joy for as long as she was able to do it. Cathy was also a member of Davis Community Church, a group of friends that she embraced and that loved her in return.
Cathy loved people, performing, singing, camping, sun and water, writing, triking, smiling and laughing, helping others, creating her art and phonetos, watching movies, texting and posting, and her snacks. What she said she loved most of all, though, was being with Linda Duval, the one who for nearly 30 years she always lovingly called "my favorite, and my family." Linda grieves her passing along with their little Mazie. Cathy is also deeply mourned by her beloved BFF Angela (Blanchie) Simon and soul sistah Jennifer Terra; siblings Barbara (Salonius), Peggy (Grady), Jim, and Mary, 14 nieces and nephews, 20 grand nieces and nephews, and many dear and lifelong friends of whom she was truly fond. In addition to her mother and two brothers, Cathy was predeceased by her father, sister Susan, and infant brother Stephen. A memorial celebration will be planned likely for mid-summer, details will be announced from Cathy Speck's Facebook Page.