Life Story Visitation
Saturday, July 31, 2021
5:00 PM to 7:00 PM EDT
Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Please join us for a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks and stories will be shared.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
All who knew Cheryl Valencia-Icard can agree she truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She enjoyed doing the things she loved with the people she loved, even in the simplest of moments. Cheryl was a constant source of strength and encouragement for those around her, and her drive to succeed was unmatched. She lived for thrill and adventure, and she strove to be a shining example of what it looks like to not let anyone or anything else define who you become. Deeply loved, Cheryl will be dearly missed.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as countless young servicemen and women were serving in WWII. As our nation found victory and welcomed an era of peace, new inventions forged their way to becoming household names. Color Televisions entertained us in our living rooms while the tunes of Frank Sinatra and Perry Como filled the radio waves. Silly Putty found its way into the hands of children everywhere and the Slinky took its first step down the stairs. Nowhere was there more hope than in the home of Navy Commander Eugene Valencia and Jeanne Chauvet, on September 20, 1946 as they welcomed home their baby girl, Cheryl.
The Valencia family was quite influential in what eventually became known as Napa Valley, California. They brought grapes from all over France and owned large areas of land. Cheryl was raised in a loving family alongside her brother, Tony. As her father was a Naval Commander who served as an ace fighter pilot in WWII and later trained Blue Angels. He was one of the most decorated pilots in WWII history. The Valencia family moved around often throughout Cheryl’s childhood. After attending schools locally wherever she called home, she went on to attend San Diego State University as she was ready to move on to bigger and better things.
As a young woman Cheryl began working in corporate recruiting and devoted herself to the profession throughout her life. She thrived on the competition of it and challenged herself to succeed. Even though it was a primarily male-dominated space, Cheryl was a force to be reckoned with. Cheryl was never afraid to speak her mind, and she never left anyone wondering what she thought. She also enjoyed the idea of building her wealth not because of the money, but because through her success she became a leader within her industry, blazing the trail for other women to follow in her footsteps.
New and exciting changes were on the horizon for Cheryl as she met the love of her life. She won a company trip to the Virgin Islands, where she met Robert Icard who had done the same. The two were introduced by mutual friends and hit it off immediately, bonding over their similar backgrounds and competitive spirits. Cheryl offered to show him around San Jose when they returned. Just a few weeks later, Robert took her up on her offer and flew out there for his birthday. It didn’t take long for Robert and Cheryl to realize that they were made for each other.
Of all the things Cheryl loved in life, she treasured her family above all else. As a mother, Cheryl was full of hugs and love and was not afraid to share her adventurous side with her family. Many memories were made on roller coasters, snorkeling, or biking down the mountain side in Hawaii, coasting for a total of 38 miles. There was nothing Cheryl wasn’t willing to do in the name of fun and adventure. Cheryl was overjoyed to become a grandmother later in life. As her family grew to include many nieces, nephews, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, she considered herself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
In her free time, Cheryl enjoyed pursuing several hobbies. She loved golf, played on a league while living in Traverse City, and took many golfing trips to destinations all around the country including Myrtle Beach. On one such trip, Cheryl and Robert visited the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier docked in Charleston. Cheryl’s father had once served on the ship. The docent immediately recognized her name and recalled her father’s legends and photos, some of which were proudly displayed onboard. They also enjoyed golfing in Maui, where Cheryl once shot 88 on the course. She was excited beyond belief and the score remained her best round ever. It is worth noting, however, that her score often didn’t match what was actually on her scorecard!
Cheryl and Robert truly embraced a life of adventure, seeking out new experiences. They once went on a glider trip together. At Cheryl’s request for the pilot to do “something fancy,” the pilot took a deep nose dive before swooping upward towards the clouds. Both Cheryl and Robert blacked out from the G-forces, but they loved every second of it. The couple later bought a home in Hawaii and paraglided off one of the tallest peaks, enjoying the birds eye view of the island as they gently floated to the ground. Many weekends were spent salmon fishing on Lake Michigan on their boat. They were known to dodge a storm here and there, though not always successfully.
Cheryl also loved playing the slots, especially at Little River Casino, and she once hit the jackpot while playing quarter slots and was surprised when it was much more than she’d expected. Cheryl’s competitiveness shined through at the most opportune times and gambling was no exception. While on a cruise ship, Robert won a bit, and though Cheryl was upset for a while because she wasn’t winning, she set her mind to it and quickly came back with another jackpot of her own.
She belonged to the Corvette Club in San Jose, proving not only that she could earn enough to buy a fancy sportscar, but she could drive one just as well as any man could. Cheryl also enjoyed helicopter rides, flying light planes in Kalamazoo, and hot air balloon rides. She credited her passion of thrills and adventure to her father’s side of the family.
Later in life, Cheryl and Robert left their jobs at the recruiting company in order to form their own firm, the Icard Group. Their headquarters was located in Traverse City, which gave them plenty of opportunities to visit the beautiful city. Robert was the entrepreneurial spirit of the two while Cheryl was his biggest supporter. Cancer forced her to slow down, but she gave the disease the biggest fight it had ever seen and lived her last months with dignity surrounded by the love and support of her family.
When reflecting on the life of Cheryl Valencia-Icard, it is easy to see her unwavering and unconditional love for her family. She was known for her competitive nature, her witty sense of humor, and her unshakeable loyalty to the ones she treasured. Though Cheryl was small in stature, her personality and impact were mighty. She truly understood the value of hard work and responsibility no matter the obstacles. Though she will be deeply missed, Cheryl leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loves ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
On June 28, 2021, Cheryl Valencia-Icard, 74 years young, lived her last day of a fulfilled life. Through her Faith, Cheryl joins her Heavenly Father with her parents, Navy Commander Eugene A. Valencia and Jeanne Chauvet. She is survived by her loving husband of 32 years, Bob Icard; Brother: Tony Valencia; Children: Steve (Erin) Gibson, Robin Icard, Jason (Summer Pappen) Icard, Eric (Brett Leingang) Icard; and many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Cremation has taken place. A gathering will be held at a later date where friends and family are encouraged to come raise a glass and share stories in celebration of Cheryl. Visit Cheryl’s webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read her Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign her online guestbook. Memorial donations may be directed to American Cancer Society. Arrangements by Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009. (269) 375-2900.