Philanthropist, community activist Cheri Fleming dies

Valencia Acura owners Don and Cheri Fleming were recognized by J.D. Power as a recipient of the 2019 Dealer of Excellence certification. Cheri Fleming died Monday after a brief illness. Courtesy photo
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Well-known philanthropist and local community activist Cheri Fleming, co-owner of Valencia Acura, died Monday after a brief illness. 

Born  in 1951 and raised in Parma Heights, Ohio, Fleming moved to Southern California after college, opening her own tanning salon with the help of tanning salon equipment supplier Don Fleming, whom she later married. 

After owning and managing several auto dealerships, the Flemings purchased Valencia Acura in 1997. When the couple purchased the dealership, it was ranked last in sales and customer satisfaction nationally among Acura dealers, and they quickly set to work in turning it around. The Flemings subsequently turned Valencia Acura into one of the top Acura dealerships in customer loyalty and sales. 

Even so, it wasn’t enough for Fleming to be a respected business leader in the community — she felt it was her duty to also give back and immediately dedicated herself to helping her new community.

That leadership extended to serving on the boards of various charitable organizations, including the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation, Child & Family Center, American Cancer Society, Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce and Boys & Girls Club of SCV.

A member of Soroptimist International of SCV since 1999, Fleming first served as a Soroptimist International of the Americas board member, then as president, presiding over 36,000 Soroptimist members in 20 countries.

In 2004, the Flemings were named the SCV’s Man and Woman of the Year, marking only the second time in 40 years that a husband and wife had shared the award in the same year.

Over the years, Fleming has received numerous other recognitions for her leadership, philanthropy and community service, consistently named among “Santa Clarita’s 51 Most Influential” by The Signal, along with other notable awards, including being named Woman of the Year by the L.A. County 5th Supervisorial District and Commission for Women in 2012, and being named as the 2019 recipient of COC Foundation’s Silver Spur Community Service Award along with Don. 

As a leader in the business community, Fleming advocated for women like herself, winning the SCV Business Journal’s Women in Business Award for Mentoring in 2018. 

Her service to local organizations never seemed to tire, and she and Don continued their active involvement with nonprofits through this year, hoping only to make a positive change in their community.

“Cheri’s heart of gold has truly made the SCV a better place, not only giving financially but of her self and spirit. A true business leader,” said Signal Owner/Publisher Richard Budman. “The community has just lost one of its brightest stars.”

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