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1947 Cheryl Kalakian 2023

Cheryl Lynn (Wayne) Kalakian

May 9, 1947 — January 5, 2023

Madison Lake

Cheryl Lynn (Wayne) Kalakian, 75, of Madison Lake, MN, passed away with her daughter at her side on January 5, 2023 at Birchwood Cottages in North Mankato after a long battle with dementia.

Cheryl was born May 9, 1947 in Albert Lea, Minnesota to Eunice and Loren Wayne. She grew up in Geneva, MN with her parents and brother, Howard. Cheryl graduated from Ellendale High School in 1965 and entered Mankato State College that fall. After graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education from Mankato State in 1969, Cheryl taught at the Wilson Campus School for several years. When that facility closed, she became one of the newly established Student Relations Coordinators who represented each of the colleges at Mankato State. Cheryl played a crucial role in supporting students enrolled in the College of Education. She was wholly dedicated to the students she served and to her fellow faculty members in the College of Education. As a lifelong learner, Cheryl earned her Master’s Degree, and later, a Specialist Degree in Education.  

Cheryl married Leonard Kalakian in 1968, and they had three children, Heather, Kerby, and Karey. Cheryl’s family meant the world to her. She was an involved and loving parent who supported the efforts, talents, and interests of each of her children. She respected their unique personalities and pursuits and devoted immense energy and time to their development. Though Cheryl and Leonard later divorced, she continued to cherish the experiences they had together with their children. Many spring break ski trips to Beaver Creek, CO and Waikiki Beach with the Jim and Sandi Jessen family were among her favorites. Cheryl traveled to Kenya twice. The friends she made and the extraordinary things she accomplished in Kenya held a piece of her heart forever. Cheryl climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and later Mount Kenya alongside her daughter, Karey, brother Howard, and niece, Shannon (Mark).

When Cheryl became a grandmother “Grammy” with the arrival of Karey’s daughter, Heather, in 2004, she was the happiest she had been in years. Heather brought so much joy to her life as did she to Heather’s. So much so that Karey often had to ask her mom to please bring her daughter back home so she and her dad could spend time with her, too.

Cheryl was an avid sports fan (a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan!). Cheryl never just sat on the sidelines.  She had a competitive spirit and willingly devoted time to any training necessary. She was her biggest competitor. She was a dedicated runner and participated in ten full marathons, including the Honolulu, Disney, and New York City Marathon. She thoroughly enjoyed downhill skiing. Cheryl’s love for skiing led to her participation in the adult ski racing league at Mt. Kato when she was in her early 60s. She had the most fun with her team, “The Buddies.” Cheryl twice qualified for, competed in, and placed in the National NASTAR downhill ski competition held annually in Winter Park, Colorado. During Cheryl’s last days, her granddaughter, Heather, was skiing in Winter Park. Grammy would have loved nothing more for her.

Cheryl opened her home on the lake to many friends and colleagues over the years.  Every summer, folks loved gathering to enjoy time by the lake and pool. Always a competitor, Cheryl created triathlons which included a swim race in her pool followed by a bike and run around her neighborhood with beer stops along the way and certainly at the finish line.

Cheryl suffered extraordinary losses in her life. The heartbreaking and untimely deaths of her young daughter, Heather, in 1975 and later her son, Kerby, in 1995, would have brought most of us to complete despair. Somehow, Cheryl found the inner strength to continue living life positively. She managed to move forward with immense courage, acceptance, and a positive outlook. She was incredibly inspirational and is now reunited with her children she has so deeply missed all these years.

Cheryl was preceded in death by her parents; daughter, Heather; and son, Kerby. She is survived by her beloved daughter, Karey; granddaughter, Heather; brother, Howard (Shirley) Wayne; niece, Shannon (Mark) McCollough; nephews, Mitch (Joanne) Wayne and Brett (Celeste) Wayne; great-nieces, Anne (Eduardo) and Robyn (Ben); and great-nephew, Luke.

There will be a private celebration of Cheryl’s life at the Geneva Cemetery on Memorial Day. Cheryl rarely missed their Memorial Day services.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent directly to Northview ~ North Mankato Mortuary (ATTN: Cheryl Kalakian family, 2060 Commerce Drive, North Mankato, MN 56003). The charitable contributions will be distributed into the Heather and Kerby Kalakian endowment funds already in place at Minnesota State Mankato.



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