Marsha Elaine Shaikhly, age 74, passed away on May 9, 2021 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She was born on February 21, 1947 in Northampton, Massachusetts, to Ruby and Marcus Damerst.  Marsha grew up between Amherst, Massachusetts, Castle Rock, Colorado, and Grand Island, Nebraska.  After graduating high school in Grand Island, she went on to further her education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and John F. Kennedy University in Orinda California.  Marsha graduated with dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art and Anthropology, and then with a Master’s degree in Museum Studies.

While spending some time in Denver, Colorado, Marsha met and later married Issam Omran Shaikhly, the father of her 3 children Samira, Nadera, and Jamal. They eventually divorced in 1981 but remained close friends and involved together in their children's lives.

Marsha was a very talented and accomplished Artist. She loved creating amazing oil and acrylic paintings, illustrations, and sculptures. In her later years, she channeled her art into making unique and custom painted kites. She also worked as a museum curator in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in Castle Rock, Colorado. Never one to sit still for long, Marsha also worked as a florist and picture framer at a couple of small businesses, as well as a Pricing Manager at Wild Oats & Sprouts Markets.

When she wasn’t working, she adored spending time with her children, family, and friends. She also loved listening to the Beatles and Michael Buble, going on long drives with her son Jamal, traveling to California and Europe, spending time with her grandchildren, fighting for autism rights, going to Disneyland, anything Star Wars, watching movies, walking in Muir Woods, and, of course, being with her dog Nico. Even in her hobbies, Marsha loved being an artist in other ways.  She loved sewing, photography, and writing children’s books.

Marsha's spirit was particularly shown through her generosity, unconditional support, and the way she liked to have fun with her broader family, friends, husband & children. They have fond memories of camping trips across the country, family reunions, birthday parties, Christmas Eve mass, and April Fool's pranks.

Her zest and curiosity were unparalleled; always learning or creating something interesting. In her later years, she immersed herself into genealogy and wrote an interesting paper on the Damerst family’s involvement in the Castle Rock, Colorado, community while she was a child. She also was successful in finding long lost family members while on a trip to Greece.

Marsha is preceded in death by her father, Marcus Damerst; mother, Ruby Damerst; brother, Marcus Damerst Jr.; and brother, Douglas Damerst.  She leaves behind her 3 children, Samira Shaikhly, Nadera Cullen, and Jamal Shaikhly; grandchildren, Teagan, Sloane, Erin, and Liam Cullen; sister, Debra Damerst; nieces and nephews, Gaia, Jessica, Katherine, Lincoln and Chris Damerst, Aaron Garrison, and Melanie Trujillo; cousins, Lynne, Jeff, Kirk, Stacy, Teresa, Angie, and Roy; Uncles, Dick Shepherd and Bill Richters; and Sisters-in-Law, Lisa Graham and Jeanne Damerst.

It's difficult to capture Marsha's beauty, essence and life in writing, but suffice to say - she was special, beloved by all, and kind. She truly was a light and bright soul that touched many. In her later years, Marsha expressed that one of her greatest purposes was not only to take care of her children but to fully experience the beauty in connecting with others. She was the glue of the family and brought everyone together. She will always be remembered as a pure embodiment of love and will be dearly missed.

Her children would like to express their deep gratitude to Lee Ingalls-Noble, Dale Noble, and Onorina & Richard Rinker for their help over the last year while Marsha was suffering from heart and kidney failure. Their love and support meant more than they can ever know.

Donations will be accepted to the Organization for Autism Research in Marsha and Jamal Shaikhly’s names.