Donald Arthur “Poppo” Speakman

January 1, 2024


Donald Arthur “Poppo” Speakman passed away peacefully in his sleep on Jan 1, 2024 in his 81st year of life, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. 

His battle with medical issues over decades had taken toll, left him exhausted and uneasy, but still he overcame it and pushed through to the end. He never gave up, and he was forever ready to fight to the finish. 

Poppo was quick to laugh and quick to joke, and moreover, just as quick to hold you accountable. He held an incredible strength of will and tenacity with which he powered through life, and at times, his downright determination was as inspiring as it was maddening, and each of us who are gifted to recall such moments will most likely chuckle, because sometimes it hurt as much as it was helpful.

During his life he had so much love for his best friends – his dogs. He had a great passion spending time and often traveling with his furry companions. And now he is with them again walking through forests and the greatest pastures. 

Poppo was gifted with resourcefulness and ingenuity, he passionately strove to hit his mark. Even when the journey was rocky and became a great challenge, he found a way to make it work. At times one might not agree with his methods, but he always endeavored to persevere. His sheer will power was motivating to anyone that knew him. Most of us would not be where we are today if he didn’t touch our lives the way in which he did.

Born in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada on Feb 1, 1942 to parents Evelyn Margaret (Young) Speakman (Bruce) and Father Ernest Arthur Charles Speakman.  He was the son of a preacher man and a farmer. After a brief period as a seafarer working salmon boats from British Columbia Canada, he developed a passion for food and cooking, and as a young man started working in the restaurant business learning it well. In his lifetime he would own and operate three successful family style diners in New York State with his surviving wife, companion and business associate of over 50 years, Marilyn Kathleen Speakman (Tretts).  Together they had a blended family of six surviving children, a daughter Patricia and Richard Flannigan (Debski), a son Lawrence and Melanie Debski, a daughter Susan Sullivan, (Debski), a son John and Bobbi Debski, a son James and Marlene Speakman and daughter Kate Speights (Speakman).

Don’s legacy also included his first family as his journey began in the late 60’s with former wife Marion Speakman and their five surviving children one deceased, a daughter Angie Braden (Speakman), a daughter Sharon Fong (Speakman), a daughter Donna Wong (Speakman), a son Don Friedline (Speakman) and son Joe Speakman.

He is survived by six siblings and one deceased. Sidney Speakman, Walter (Daniel Speakman), Sylvia Barber (Speakman), Juanita Baird (Speakman), Roy Speakman, Douglas Speakman and Keith Speakman (deceased).

It is said that the best chapters in life are those worth remembering and those significant pieces of time create an everlasting footprint for all to see, to feel, to embrace. 

Family is the greatest gift and besides Don’s 11 surviving children (1 deceased) he leaves the earth knowing his family has been strongly built with 30 Grandchildren and 33 Great Grandchildren, all remembering their beloved Poppo.

Don will be remembered in a Celebration of Life to be scheduled at a future date and will include the scattering of ashes @ sunset. 

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8 days ago

You will be missed, all the stubbornness and hard times you gave us in your specoal way…all our debates back and forth on things…Never meant a man more opionated…lol
We will cherish all the memories that made you who you were.. behave yourself in heaven ♡till we meet again love you Poppo

Dana Mims
1 month ago

My thoughts are with your family who are mourning Donald’s passing. It was a pleasure to know him and see him in church. Knowing his faith in God will hopefully comfort the family to realize his passing was a passing into another realm. The scriptures describe what his soul is now experiencing as:
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”. And
“The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.”
These are only a couple descriptions of what his faith has brought him. Hopefully this brings comfort to us who are still on earth greiving.