Celebration of Life
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Life Story / Obituary
Creative, generous, and persevering, Cherie Benson lived a big, beautiful, heart-centered life. Cherie confidently faced life's hardships and fully celebrated the gifts in even the most ordinary moments. She was a daydreamer, always scheming and coming up with creative ideas she would share with a legendary "what if we..." She loved to make everything around her pretty and happy and was quick to tell others, "Don't worry. Everything will be okay." Cherie's core values were firmly rooted in kindness, generosity, and continuous improvement. She went out of her way to lend a hand to those in need and encouraged others to keep moving, especially when life was challenging. She led by example, firmly believing that the best way to stay healthy was to "get up and do something. The plan will work itself out." A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend, Cherie was an inspiration to all who were blessed to know her.
1951 proved a year of increased comforts and exciting new possibilities. While unemployment dropped to new lows, the nation additionally celebrated the first direct-dial trans-coastal phone call, easier travel in more comfortable cars and on newly paved interstates, and the premieres of I Love Lucy, The Day The Earth Stood Still, and An American in Paris. Nowhere was the sense of hope for the future more celebrated than in the hearts of Douglas and Betty (Horvath) Peters as they welcomed their daughter Cherie into their family on September 19.
Born and raised in Benton Harbor, Michigan, Cherie's early days were filled with activity. Along with her siblings, Wade, Marla, Sheila, and Amanda, Cherie attended local public schools. From Kindergarten through eighth grade Cherie attended a one room school house, Stanley School, where she was valedictorian of her eighth grade class. She went on to both Coloma and Benton Harbor Public Schools. From the start, it was clear that Cherie was a creative spirit. She naturally recognized the beauty and effortlessly found ways to add color, hope, and joy to every moment. She enjoyed lively conversation and navigating life with an adventurous spirit. A daydreamer and a wanderer, she was rarely bored, for there was always something new to discover and experience. Cherie was quick to put others first and never hesitated to commit herself fully to her passions and pursuits, especially when they centered on making life prettier and happier.
In August of 1968, Cherie met the love of her life, Hollis Benson, while attending the Saluto Pizza family picnic at Hays Park in Watervliet. Cherie was heading into her senior year of high school at Benton Harbor, and Hollis was getting ready to start college at Lake Michigan Community College. Instantly attracted to one another, they talked for hours. After dating for a time, they began planning for a future together. They exchanged their wedding vows on November 6, 1971, officially beginning their 51 years of marriage.
Cherie and Hollis settled into married life and, in time, were blessed to welcome three children to their family. Amie, Tamara, and Hollis III quickly became the centers of Cherie's world, and she worked hard to create a loving, happy, and supportive home for them. With signature style, she parented with optimism and concentrated on making great memories her family would long treasure. Sunday and early morning car rides out to Lake Michigan to watch the crashing waves with one chocolate milk for each person, and two donuts to share were delicious traditions. Gathering until late into the night around bonfires, listening to music, telling stories, sharing laughter, and marveling at the stars in the sky were always a good time too. Cherie loved to listen to loud music, especially songs by her favorite artists, which included Abba, Neil Diamond, Blondie, Kenny Rogers, Toby Keith, and Radiohead.
Though Cherie was a terrible driver, she loved to drive. She often hit the road in the car with no destination in mind. She'd speed along with music blaring and never used her turn signal. Cherie's busy mind led to a love of reading, writing, and artistic pursuits. She loved to decorate and make both indoor and outdoor spaces happy, sunny, and colorful, growing magical flower gardens that were a joy for everyone to witness. She read a book a day, was a great writer of fiction and family history, and enjoyed painting. Her passion in the most recent years was singing and songwriting with Jeff Kosobucki at Everybody's Music in Decatur. She also loved to collect things, including rocks, chicken figurines, clocks, books, stamps, and every greeting card she'd received since high school graduation.
A lone fighter who would never let you know there were challenges, Cherie much preferred concentrating on making happiness for others. Her strong will was evident in her "I'm Fine. Everything is fine!" attitude and her insistence on bringing sunshine and color to every moment. Never interested in taking or being in a serious picture; instead, Cherie always made funny faces, stuck out her tongue, put a thumb in the frame, or took such a blurry shot, there was no telling what the picture was actually supposed to be. Whether working tirelessly to build the family business, Rendezvous Sporting Goods, her real estate career, tending to her home and gardens, taking a retail therapy field trip with a loved one, or singing along to a favorite song, Cherie embraced the joy in life and inspired others to do so too.
Without a doubt, the world is less certain in the absence of Cherie's bright spirit. May we find much comfort in our many treasured memories and in the honor of carrying her legacy forward. In each moment that we choose hope over despair, move through hard times with faith in ourselves, gather with loved ones to share stories and laughter, and honor our creativity, we celebrate the many ways Cherie made the world a better place. In this way, we keep her beautiful spirit alive and inspiring others as she so inspired each of us.
Cherie Benson of Paw Paw, age 71, died on January 29, 2023. Cherie was born September 19, 1951, in Benton Harbor to Douglas and Betty (Horvath) Peters, who precede her in death, along with her brother, Wade Peters. Surviving are her husband, Hollis II; children: Amie (Deron) Kaczorowski, Tamara (Joe) Gabb, and Hollis III (Rebecca) Benson; grandchildren: Joey (Emily), Morgan, A.J., Erin, Alex, David, Leah, and Jacob; sisters: Marla (Joel) Mashke, Sheila (Bob) Hamlett, and Amanda Kindig; numerous nieces and nephews; and her faithful dog, Sherman. True to Cherie's style and personality, a celebration of life will be held at Lake Michigan Hills Golf Club, the former location of the Peters family fruit farm, on June 18 from 4-6 PM. Visit Cherie's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories and photos and sign her guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to American Heart Association or American Diabetes Association. Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Homes, 60900 M40 Paw Paw (269) 657-3870.