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Cheri Starr Fernandez

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Cheri Starr Fernandez (Voss) passed away peacefully in Hospice in Illinois on Sunday, November 13th, 2022 after enduring a long and courageous journey with cancer. She was 65 years young at the time of her death, and was surrounded by family including her husband (Joaquin Fernandez), sister-in-law (Marielos Rojas), and her two sons (Rob & Patrick Fernandez). Cheri was born May 1st, 1957 in Des Moines, IA. She touched the lives of everyone she met, and she left her mark on this Earth in many precious ways. She was a compassionate friend to many, a loving daughter, sister, mother, and grandmother. She always placed the needs and wants of her family and friends above her own, with a full heart and genuine caring spirit. Cheri was an artist throughout her life, inspiring her own children and grandchildren and anyone she met to appreciate the beauty of life, nature, and works of art. She created numerous, unique works with various media ranging from jewelry making with sterling silver and gemstones to still-life drawing as well as pastels, watercolors, and oil painting. In the final months of her life, she felt moved to draw and paint many creative works of art for her loved ones and friends to cherish for years to come.

During her life, Cheri made the most of every opportunity to experience the world, travel, learn about new cultures, and meet new people. She met her husband, Joaquin, in the late 1970s while visiting her cousin, David Davis, on a trip to Costa Rica. She loved it so much she ended up living there for several years prior to moving back to Iowa to raise a family. She learned to speak Spanish and helped teach English and Art to the students who attended the English Audiovisual Institute near San Jose, Costa Rica. She always encouraged her children (and later grandchildren) to appreciate all the world has to offer—the varied languages, history, art, literature, architecture, people, and natural treasures that she said helped to frame the story of each new adventure. After having two sons in the early 1980s, Cheri became a flight attendant for Northwest Airlines, allowing her to regularly travel to many distant countries in Europe and Asia. Although they settled initially in the rural town of Prole, Iowa, she made sure her children and family had many enriching opportunities to travel with her from time to time. Just prior to retiring from the airlines, Cheri began to pursue several entrepreneurial and business ventures. She had a vision to create a specialty gift store where she could showcase her own hand-made jewelry and other distinctive gift items she would procure from all over the world. This vision culminated in what was called the Cheri Starr Jewelry & Gift Boutique, which for several years had a physical presence in Norwalk and West Des Moines, Iowa and later featured online and in other states such as Wisconsin, Illinois, and New York (Long Island). Everyone who visited her Boutique commented on the novelty and personal attention to detail that set her shop apart.

This was how Cheri lived her life, giving all her energy to those things for which she was most passionate about. And nowhere was her energy or passion more strong than with her family. She always encouraged those she loved to dream, imagine the possibilities, and to pursue their goals. Her and her husband raised two children who were inspired by this upbringing, and both achieved higher education that led to careers in medicine and finance. Although she became increasingly limited over the years due to the cancer, she did not hesitate at any opportunity to be there for her family. In the last years of her life, she continued to give her time and love after she became a grandmother. She adored her four grandchildren, and was able to make many beautiful memories while sharing her creative energy with their curious young minds.

Cheri’s middle name (Starr) is fitting, as her love shined as bright as the heavens in the hearts of anyone she touched in her life. That light will continue to radiate in our hearts, and we will remember her always while knowing she will be with us in spirit.

Cheri is preceded in death by her grandparents, Floyd and Linda Wilson; Raymond and Marie Voss; and Orin and Peg Spalding; and her father, Charles Voss. She is survived by her husband, Joaquin Fernandez, her two sons: Rob (Jenna) Fernandez and Patrick (Danielle) Fernandez, her four grandchildren: Leonardo, Christian, Ariella, and Aurora Fernandez; her mother, Margaret Voss and brother, Dan (Theresa) Voss; and her sisters-in-law, Marielos Rojas, Liz (Juan) Rojas, Maribel Rojas, and Ana Rojas; as well as Jim (Ginny) Spalding and many cousins and friends.

There will be no public viewing or gathering. A funeral mass will be held on Saturday, December 3rd at 10:00 AM at Christ the King Catholic Church in Des Moines, IA. Please join the family after mass with light refreshments and further time to commemorate Cheri's life. Livestreaming of the event will be available for those who cannot attend. The family requests that any memorial gifts or flowers be sent to the Christ the King Catholic Church for the ceremony. Any memorial monetary contributions will be donated for cancer-related research in Cheri’s honor at the National Cancer Institute

To view the funeral go to: once the live stream starts it will pop up on our YouTube channel for the Funeral Mass at 10:00am on Saturday.


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