Cheryl Anne “Cheri” Fleming, 69, of Valencia, passed away from natural causes on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, following a brief illness resulting from a brain aneurysm.
In consideration of current health and safety protocols, as well as Los Angeles County Public Health Officer restrictions, private church services for the family will be held on Friday, Dec. 11, at 11 a.m.
Pastor Rusty George of Real Life Church will officiate.
Services will be live-streamed at https://player.streammonkey.com/5ede67635b889 and broadcast on social media platform Facebook @SignalSCV @SCVTV and @KHTSradio.
Fleming is survived by her husband, Don Fleming, and three children: Kymbra Fleming Steig (Doug), Brian Fleming (Jennifer), and Don Fleming, Jr. (Adrianne); five grandchildren (in age order) – Anthony Fleming, Bradley Fleming, Farah Fleming, Morgan Steig, and Austin Fleming; her sister Lynn Callaway (Joe) in New Jersey; niece Courtney Cifuni (Nick); two great-nieces Juliet and Micaela Cifuni; and her cherished canines Test Drive “Tessi” Noel and Turbo Earl Fleming.
She is preceded in death by her parents Philip Frank Sykes and Eleanor Levan Sykes, and beloved pets Dancer, Sunshine, Spirit, Scooter, Spark Plug, and Bumper.
“I fell in love with Cheri the first time I saw her,” Don Fleming said. “She brought so much joy and inspiration to our lives that it was never dull. Cheri was my world, my everything. I love the lifetime of adventures we had together.”
Cheri Fleming was raised in Parma Heights, Ohio. She graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor’s degree in German and a minor in Business before moving to Southern California where she began a career in business before meeting her husband, Don.
Together, the couple’s entrepreneurial spirit materialized as they built and owned various successful businesses, including a tanning salon in Encino that at one point became the highest-grossing salon in the nation. However, it was the car business where they discovered their passion in 1985.
In 1997, the Flemings purchased Valencia Acura, and made the decision to put Cheri in the leadership position as Dealer Principal. At the time, Valencia Acura ranked dead last nationally in sales and customer satisfaction. With no place to go but up, the Flemings infused a culture to treat customers the way they would want to be treated. Today, Valencia Acura is one of the highest-ranking customer satisfaction dealerships in the country. Their sales penetration in their primary market area and customer loyalty ranks among the highest in the nation.
Cheri was awarded “Dealer of the Year” by Newsweek Magazine and the American International Automobile Dealer Association in 2006 based on Valencia Acura’s business practices and community involvement. At the time of her passing, Fleming served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association.
The Flemings never lost sight of the importance of giving back to the community that supported them throughout the years. “I’ve never met anyone as energetic, positive, and selfless as Cheri,” said Don Fleming. “I will forever be so proud of all she did for others to help make our community a better place.”
Cheri was a vital force in the Santa Clarita community and leaves a long and lasting legacy in the nonprofit world. With an entrepreneurial spirit, irresistible optimism, and vibrant enthusiasm, she successfully harnessed her love for volunteerism and doing good in the lives of others into a mission of philanthropy and leadership, always demonstrating a deep conviction for lifting others up.
With a genuine desire to better the lives of women and girls both locally and internationally, Cheri discovered her passion for Soroptimist International over two decades ago in the Santa Clarita Valley. Her progression through the organization’s leadership ranks was swift ascending to a world stage as President of the Soroptimist International of the Americas in 2013-2014 and Board Member of Soroptimist International from 2012 to 2015.
In her role as President, Cheri led 28 regions with more than 34,000 members in approximately 1,360 clubs in 19 countries. She traveled to New York to participate in the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations from 2009 to 2017 and recently served as a member of the Soroptimist International of the Americas Donor Relations Task Force.
In a final interview days before her illness, Cheri said, “I live every day embracing the true mission of Soroptimist, which is to empower others… helping others succeed enriches my own legacy.”
Cheri was actively involved in the local community providing leadership through service on numerous nonprofit boards. Since 1997, she served as a Director for the Child and Family Center and the 2020 Board Chairwoman. In addition, Cheri served as Chair-Elect for the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital after 15 years of service as a Director on the hospital’s Foundation, including two terms as Chairwoman.
The American Cancer Society, Sheila R. Veloz Breast Imaging Center, Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley, Arthritis Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity also were beneficiaries of her leadership, drive, and vision.
Personal awards based on Cheri’s contributions to the community included the prestigious “Silver Spur Award for Community Service” presented in 2019 by College of the Canyons, and “Woman of the Year” recognition by Los Angeles County 5th Supervisorial District and Commission for Women in 2012, California State Senator George Runner in 2007, and Santa Clarita Valley Man & Woman of the Year Committee in 2004.
Cheri was honored as “Business Owner of the Year” (2008), “Volunteer of the Year” (2017) and, most recently, with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” (2020) by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal, which also named her one of the “200 Most Influential Leaders in the Valley” (2017-2020) and the prestigious “Icon of Influence” in 2020. She received the “Women in Business Award for Mentoring” (2018) by the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal and was named one of “Santa Clarita’s Top 51 Most Influential” by The Signal newspaper for several years.
The American Cancer Society honored Fleming with the “Legacy of Hope Award for Mission Support” in 2010. The Boy Scouts of America bestowed the “Leader of Character Award” (2011). Zonta International of Santa Clarita Valley honored Cheri with a “Tribute for Local Women Global Impact” (2014), “Carmen Sarro Award for Improving the Status of Women through Community Service” (2004), and honored by the local club in 2002.
In 2012, Single Mother’s Outreach honored Fleming as an “Iconic Woman” and the Santa Clarita Elks Lodge #2379 named her “Citizen of the Year” in 2011. Fleming received the “Beverly Twigg Kennedy Award” by the Arthritis Foundation, Southern California Chapter, and received the “Inaugural Woman of Honor Award” by the Betty Ferguson Foundation in 2001.
In lieu of flowers, the Fleming family has established the Cheri Fleming Legacy Fund through Soroptimist International at www.soroptimist.org/cherifleming.html. A community-wide Celebration of Life for Mrs. Fleming will be planned post-Covid-19.
For more information, visit www.ValenciaAcura.com or call 661-255-3000.