Nov 7th 1943 - Apr 29th 2012
Cheryl O. Holdren was a loving wife, wonderful mother and adoring grandmother. Family was everything to her, and she encouraged everyone to get along by her own spirit of optimism and fun. She had a great sense of humor and was good at making people laugh. She was outgoing and friendly as well as private and modest, finding great satisfaction in putting others first. Whether caring for her husband, kids or grandkids, Cheryl gave of herself and, in doing so, found true happiness.
Cheryl’s story began during a decade in which World War II dominated American life. As men went off to war and women were drawn into the workplace, the nation pulled together to make life as good as possible for the next generation. She was born November 7, 1943 in South Bend, Indiana, the fourth of Gerald and Marie (Cowell) Prather’s five children. Enjoying the protection of her older brother and the fun of her younger siblings, Cheryl was always devoted to her family. Throughout her life, she did her part to care for them and keep them close.
Cheryl started her elementary education in Indiana, but when her family moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, she attended Stocking Elementary School, Union High School and finally, Grandville High School. Mostly a good kid, Cheryl had a spunky, wild side to her that was best channeled into dance and theatrics (she liked to dress up). From childhood and into adulthood, she was eager to live life to its fullest.
While in high school and waitressing at the Dairy King in Standale, Cheryl met Robert “Bob” Holdren. There at the ice cream shop, the scene was set for a future that combined two loves: Bob, who became her husband on March 7, 1962 and cooking, not only on the job, but for a family that grew to include four children. Even while raising a family, Cheryl worked at the Burger Den in Standale, and then over 20 years at Butterwagon, which became the Peppermill Grill. A typical day had Cheryl waking up without an alarm and being at the grill by 6AM, then home by 2PM, only to” keep her cook’s hat on” and prepare a hot meal for her family by 5PM. It goes without saying that Cheryl was a good cook, but it gave her particular joy to know that her food made others happy.
In recent years, Cheryl enjoyed more baking and making sweets, no doubt because, as a doting grandmother, she couldn’t resist doling out the cookies and candy. Her generosity was a natural outgrowth of being the kind of mother whom kids went to when they needed something. She sacrificed for her children and tried to give them whatever they wanted. Although lenient, easygoing and loving, Cheryl knew where to draw the line. It was obvious when she was upset, but that was because she was always acting in the best interest of her children.
The Holdren family bonded around many special occasions like birthdays and holidays. Cheryl’s favorite time of year was Christmas. She started shopping right after the holiday for the next year and wrapped every single gift on Christmas Eve. During the summer, the family vacationed in rented cabins on a lake or with trips across the country to Great America or to her parents’ cottage in Baldwin, Michigan. Together, the family created many fond memories of time spent and love shared.
Though totally committed to their extended family, Cheryl and Bob shared many activities with just the two of them. Dancing was high on their list of entertainment, and because they knew a lot of people in bands, they had plenty of opportunities to listen to music and show their moves on the dance floor. They liked taking motorcycle trips, but the most memorable was not necessarily enjoyable because they traveled a very long day in the rain. The two of them also belonged to a bowling league, though Cheryl was probably more interested in the 50/50 drawing than her score. She loved to gamble, whether at the casino, at Bingo or with scratch-off tickets. She always had to split a ticket with someone, because it was as much about the social interaction as anything else.
In more recent years, Cheryl and Bob spent time at Sandy Pines—outside, away from the city, breathing clean air, sitting on the porch swing, riding around in the golf cart, hopping off to the dollar store, catching up on her TV shows, or entertaining family as guests. Whether at home or the lake, Cheryl loved having the grandchildren around to spoil, and she always made herself available to help with their care.
In her late 50s, Cheryl was diagnosed with COPD, and her life changed as the disease progressed. She found it necessary to retire from her job, her mobility became more and more limited, and she had to depend on others for help (something found difficult). Yet she remained cheerful and smiling, even when she wasn’t feeling well. She and Bob celebrated their 50th anniversary with a lovely party at their house, giving Cheryl time to visit with relatives and friends. Most reassuringly, she recently accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord and was baptized as a sign of God’s love that has no end.
Cheryl O. Holdren, age 68 of Walker, passed away at home, surrounded by her family on Sunday, April 29, 2012. Sundays had always been family days in the Holdren household, and memories of those times and so many other rich blessings will long be remembered and cherished by her beloved husband, children and grandchildren.
Cheryl is survived by her husband of 50 years, Robert; their children Brenda (Floyd) Brown, Denise (Dennis) VanPortfliet, Robert (Kimberly) Holdren; Norma (Al) Gordon; grandchildren Chrystal and Nicole Holdren, Cheryl Bradford, Robert and Gerald Holdren, Amber (Matt) Schneider, Thomas and Jessica Brown, Nathan Gordon; 7 great grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. A service to celebrate her life will be held on Wednesday, May 2 at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt & Shawmut Hills Chapel, 2120 Lake Michigan Drive NW where friends may visit with her family on Tuesday from 7-9 PM. For those who wish, memorial contributions to Faith Hospice are appreciated. To read more about Cheryl’s life, to share a memory or to sign the guestbook, please visit www.lifestorynet.com