Described as a “force of nature,” friends and family of philanthropist and community activist Cheri Fleming remembered her via a private service Friday following her death last month.
Fleming, 69, of Valencia, died Monday, Nov. 16, after a brief illness resulting from a brain aneurysm.
“Today, we will take time to remember and celebrate the life of Cheri Fleming, yet there’s no way to sum up all she did and all she was to all of us,” said Pastor Rusty George of Real Life Church, who officiated the service, which was livestreamed. “She was a business leader, philanthropist, friend, mother, grandmother, a change agent, she was a force of nature.”
Fleming is survived by: her husband, Don; three children, Kymbra Fleming Steig, Brian Fleming and Don Fleming Jr.; and five grandchildren.
“I fell in love with Cheri the first time I saw her. It was like a silver bullet pierced my heart and suddenly, I was hopelessly in love. She brought so much joy and inspiration to our lives,” Don wrote in a letter that George read from during the service. “My beloved Cheri, I will continue in the path you have set until the day we will be together at last. Until that day, I will keep a part of you close to my heart; and everywhere I am, there you’ll be.”
Fleming was born and raised in Parma Heights, Ohio, in 1951 and after college, she moved to Southern California, where she began a career in business as a tanning salon owner. Little did she know she would meet her husband, Don, who helped her open the salon as her equipment supplier.
In 1997, the couple purchased Valencia Acura, turning it around as a top performer after ranking last in sales and customer satisfaction nationally among Acura dealers.
To the Santa Clarita Valley community, Fleming was more than just a successful business leader. She provided leadership through service for numerous charitable organizations, including: the Child & Family Center, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation, American Cancer Society, the SCV Chamber of Commerce and Boys & Girls Club of SCV. Many nonprofits and agencies bestowed her with awards, such as the Silver Spur Award for Community Service, SCV Woman of the Year and perennially being named as one of Santa Clarita’s 51 Most Influential in The Signal.
In harnessing her love for volunteerism and bettering the lives of women and girls, Cheri served as a Soroptimist International of the Americas board member, then as president, presiding over 34,000 Soroptimist members in approximately 1,360 clubs in 19 countries.
“I live every day embracing the true mission of Soroptimist, which is to empower others … helping others succeed enriches my own legacy,” Fleming said in a previous interview, days before her illness.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, paid tribute to Fleming from the U.S. House floor in Washington, D.C.
“As a philanthropist, Cheri was one of the primary reasons why so many nonprofit organizations in our district are thriving, and providing services and hope to countless thousands,” said Garcia. “Today, she is with God but she will always remain in our hearts.”
The Fleming family has established the Cheri Fleming Legacy Fund through Soroptimist International via Soroptimist.org/cherifleming.html. A communitywide Celebration of Life for her is planned after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to friends and family.
To view the complete service, visit The Signal’s Facebook page.