In Memoriam: Valerie Holladay

We note with sadness the passing of Valerie Holladay, who played a key role in Mormon literature over the last 20 years as an author of personal essays, a magazine editor, commercial publishing house editor, and a University teacher. Valerie, who was 52, resided in Nephi, Utah.

Here is an obituary, written by Valerie’s family:

Our sweet angel has gone on ahead

I am sorry to tell you that our sweet angel has gone on ahead of us.

Valerie passed away on Sunday, July 3, 2011 after a short but valiant battle with cervical cancer.  We can hardly bear the loss.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Robert Babcock and Arleen Burnham Holladay, she was the third of five children.  She served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Toulouse, France.  She graduated from Brigham Young University with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in English and studied at the prestigious Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Well known in Utah writing and editing circles, Valerie served on the boards of several journals for Latter-day Saints, such as Wasatch Review and Dialogue, and was in demand for her speaking and workshops on personal history.  She taught English, fiction, and editing at Brigham Young University and Life Skills courses at Utah Valley University.  She loved teaching but most of all, she loved her students, every one of them.

Valerie always went out of her way to give to others.  She rescued injured animals from the side of the road and lifted strangers who had lost their way.  Her final act of service was to provide sight through the gift of donating her eyes and to advance medical research through donation of her body.

She was preceded in death by her mother, whom she cared for for seven years.

She is survived by brothers Stuart (Rueleen), David, and Clark (Kristina), all of Nephi, and by sister Teresa of Aurora, Colorado.  She is also survived by her adoring nieces and nephews:  Jennifer, Jamie, Brittany, Caitlin, Shalain, Alex, Aaron, Brigham, Dallin, Sam, and Brandon.

A memorial service will be held on Monday, July 11, 2011, at 11:30 a.m. at her ward meetinghouse:  222 South 100 East in Nephi, Utah.  The family will be receiving visitors in the Relief Society room from 10-11 where we will have a display and a music/picture video honoring her life.  Family and out-of-town friends, please plan to stay for a luncheon immediately following the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the American Cancer Society or the Humane Society of Utah.

The family is most grateful for the exceptional care provided by the Huntsman Cancer Institute in both Provo and Salt Lake City; Central Valley Hospital in Nephi; Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo; and University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. We would especially like to thank Drs. Jones, Hatton, Clark, and Werner for their amazing graciousness and kindness to Valerie.  You were many times answers to our prayers for her.

Valerie studied at BYU under John Bennion and Gene England, as well as Leslie Norris, Susan Howe, and Louise Plummer. While at BYU she worked in the Publications Center with Linda Adams.  Her 1991 Masters thesis is titled When it Doesn’t Matter Anymore: A Collection of Personal Essays. She co-edited Inscape, the BYU literary journal, with Tory Anderson.  After graduation Holladay and Anderson co-founded Wasatch Review International, a LDS literary journal.  The journal lasted from 1992 to 1996, when it folded due to lack of staff and money. In the early 1990s she wrote several personal essays, including “Mothers, Daughters, and Dolls” in Dialogue, Fall 1990 (23:3), “Companionship”, in the inaugural issue of Wasatch Review International (1992), and “Street Sympathy” in Dialogue, Fall 1992 (25:3).  Valerie wrote about her relationships with her family in the two essays in Dialogue, especially her mother, who suffered from mental illness.  She also gave papers on Mormon literary issues at the Sunstone Symposium and the Association for Mormon Letters annual meeting.  One of those papers was The Life and Poetry of Louisa Barnes Pratt, Early Mormon Feminist and Missionary, at the August 12, 1993 Sunstone Symposium. The link will take you to an mp3 recording of the talk, which also includes a presentation by Bryan Waterman on Louisa Pratt.

In her essay “The Path of the Wanderer: Autobiographical Theory and the Personal Essay” (Dialogue Fall 1999), Valerie talks about being introduced to the personal essay by Professor Eugene England at BYU.  She wrote, “The class was invited to write a personal essay as one of our assignments, and as I tested out this unfamiliar style of writing, I was amazed at its power to transform ugliness and chaos into grace and beauty. I was also surprised at the things, somehow appearing on the paper, that I hadn’t planned to write.  For my essay, I began with a short narrative  . . . [of] my mother’s shopping sprees to Deseret Industries for dolls when I was a girl.  I didn’t expect to conclude that my mother was talented and caring, but so divided in her loyalties that she expended all her love and energy on boxes of old, second-hand dolls.  . . .  That first essay had a fairly immediate miraculous effect on my mother, who saw herself, perhaps for the first time, as too talented and too loving, rather than what she had always believed: that she wasn’t enough of anything.  And I believe the rest of my family felt closer to my mother after reading that essay.”  Valerie concluded, “For me, the essay has been an exercise in faith, in charity, and in understanding, as well as language.  I can see greater meaning in the at-times bewildering events in my life—even if I am the one who creates the meaning and puts it there.  As I have shared my life and my search with others, I have also received invitations to accompany others along their paths, to share their wanderings and to feel their wonder as we discover meaning in the world around us.”

In the mid-1990s Valerie began working as a book editor at the commercial publisher Covenant Communications.  There she gained a reputation as a caring mentor who nurtured authors through both encouragement and detailed instruction.  Around this time she also served as Treasurer for the Association for Mormon Letters.

Her article “Walk in the Wilderness” appeared in the July 1998 issue of Ensign, July 1998. She wrote about the power of pondering.  “Different seasons of our lives may provide us with too much time alone or not enough. Being alone can be peaceful or disturbing. It can be a time of discovery and self-renewal or a time for worry and regret. I have learned that we can be nourished and enriched by solitude, whether we find ourselves with too much or too little, as we pass through the different seasons of our lives.”

After about seven years she left her position at Covenant, and taught creative writing and editing courses at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College/Utah Valley University.  She also took on free-lance editing and magazine editing positions.  She was editor of Family Voice Magazine (Pleasant Grove) for three years, a contributing editor for Ancestry Magazine, and ran the state writing contest for the League of Utah writers, which involved about 20 categories and hundreds of entries. She also served as judge of other writing contests, and taught courses at the AML Writing Conference.   Two examples of her writing for Ancestry Magazine are The Story of My Life (May – June 2003) and Finding Family (July – August 2005).

In October 2006 Valerie was named Co-editor, with Scott Hatch, of Irreantum, the LDS literary journal published by the Association for Mormon Letters. She remained in that position until April 2008, when she switched to the position of the Irreantum fiction contest coordinator.  In recent years Valerie worked as a radio producer at KBYU, and blogged at V-Formation, a group blog of Mormon authors.

Valerie’s final literary effort was to co-author, with Marilyn Brown, the photographic history book Provo.  The book features historical photographs donated by the L. Tom Perry Collection at Brigham Young University and others, as well as contemporary photographs, and text by the authors.   The book is published by Arcadia Publishing, a leading local history publisher, as part of its “Images of America” series.  Provo was released on June 13, 2011, and Valerie got to see the completed book before she passed away.

Valerie became ill in February 2011.  Her sister, Teresa, kept a detailed journal of Valerie’s treatment during her last months. The site also includes several pictures of Valerie.


Julie Wright

Valerie Holladay’s sister wrote that Valerie rescued injured animals from the side of the road and lifted strangers who had lost their way. At the time I met Valerie, I was a stranger who had lost my way. I was in the throes of depression over the rejection of my third manuscript when someone introduced me to her at a luncheon for authors. She asked me what I was working on. Well . . . she asked, so I spilled.

She did something rare upon hearing my story, something spectacular, something that changed me forever and made me who I am right now. She offered to read the manuscript and give me some advice. I sent it to her and several weeks later got a letter back from her. It was my first editorial letter. My previous publisher had been relaxed about editing, and so I had no experience with such a thing. Through her selfless offer of help to a sad stranger, I learned what it meant to polish a draft–to view  characters in a different way, to consider plot points that didn’t work. She taught me how to make a gritty, caustic, bitter character loveable. And when I was done with all the changes she said I should make, the story was a million times improved. I had written a good book before, but this was something different. This was a whole new level of writing. It struck me how much I owe her, how grateful I am for that chance meeting that changed a so-so writer into something more. Her generosity was boundless, and I know that she had done this for many others besides me. She genuinely cared about people. She wanted their happiness for them as much as they wanted it for themselves. Valerie’s good heart left an imprint on the hearts of many.  [A longer version of Julie’s tribute can be found here.]

Annette Lyon

Annette’s tribute, “Thanks, Valerie”, can be read here.

Sharlee Mullins Glenn

I first met Valerie in the late 1990′s when she was an editor at Covenant and asked me to review a children’s book manuscript that they were considering for publication.  I went to her office in American Fork and it was one of those occasions when I felt like I was reuniting with an old and cherished friend, though we had never met before.  Almost immediately we discovered three things that helped cement our friendship: 1) we lived just minutes from each other in Pleasant Grove and, though we weren’t in the same ward, we were in the same stake and our respective wards met in the same building,  2) we had been grad students at BYU at the same time and, therefore, knew a lot of the same people (though she was in English and I was in Humanities), and, most importantly, 3) we shared not only a love for good literature in general, but very similar tastes in specific books.  Over the next decade, Valerie and I attended conferences together, skipped out on Gospel Doctrine or Relief Society to chat in the hallway at church, met up for lunch whenever possible, and talked endlessly about what we were reading.  I helped her do temple work for her ancestors and she helped me find homes for the four stray kittens that somehow ended up in our backyard. Valerie had a brilliant mind and a large and loving heart.  Over the years, I often stood in awe as I witnessed her tireless love and devotion to all who were dear to her.  Valerie, I love and honor you.  And I hope there are no limits to the number of cats you can have in heaven!

Tristi Pinkston

Valerie was the first editor I ever submitted to, and she was very patient and skillful in walking me through a rewrite.  I didn’t end up publishing at that house, but I will always remember the things she taught me through that process, and her kindness to me for years afterward. The world of words has lost a hero.

Josi Kilpack

Valerie Holladay was the first writing “teacher” I had within the publishing industry because it was her name at the bottom of the rejection letter that first taught me what I didn’t know I didn’t know. Once I got over my hurt feelings, I found the guidance in her letter and revised accordingly. Years later I met her in person and was shocked that she remembered my book which I had published with another company. It was also then that I learned her detailed comments were the invitation to resubmit–I was too naïve to know it. In my years in this writing community since then, I have heard dozens of people recount similar experiences with Valerie. She was so generous with her editorial skills, so sincerely happy for the success of others, and so very kind. I’m glad to have known her, though my contact with her was certainly small. She set a standard of kindness for others to rise to.

Marilyn Brown

I considered Valerie “my editor.” I know she was that to many people. But she helped me so much! I would bring her lunch to her house and we would go over the manuscripts. She gave me our cat Chocolate, and that little creature lasted about seven years! I was interested in all of the cats, but it was sometimes pretty odorous! She was compassionate with all of them. When we bought cats from the animal shelter last year, and a little stray butterball showed up, she took that little cat home, though she was worried her folks would not like it!

I last saw Valerie on our trek to take pictures for the Arcadia Publishing Company’s version of the photo-journal book: PROVO. She was delightful, as always. I knew she wasn’t feeling well, but she was cheerful and spry, jumping out of the car and taking “shots” right along with me (although she got tired quickly). I knew she wasn’t well enough to do the work of the book, but I got through it on my own because she was there in spirit. She caught me in the only picture of either of us when she took a shot of the Novell Building. I was getting into the back seat of the car. Ironically, the only picture I got of her was of her back side, too!

When it came time to get publicity photos for marketing the book, I called her, but she couldn’t come. She said she needed a wig, and could I please wait until it was ready? After that, I emailed her a couple of times, and received no answer. I knew she was very ill, although through all of this, I was praying that the chemo would work, and that we could market the book together. It wasn’t to be.

Valerie was special. I have never known a more brilliant editor. Perhaps some may come close. But she was astute, and dedicated to her craft. We loved to visit. And the book we just did together will always stand as a monument to her smiles, her cheery disposition, and her acts of absolute charity for all around her. She deserves kudos. And acts of love and dedication in her behalf, as we carry on her tradition of excellence in the “Mormon Literary Tradition.”

Jennie Hansen

Jennie’s “Tribute to One of Our Own” can be read here.

Anna Buttimore

Anna’s “My Memories of Valerie” can be read here.

We here at the Association for Mormon Letters wish to express our love for Valerie, and our profound sadness at the loss.  We ask the Lord’s blessings of comfort for Valerie’s family, and we all look forward to meeting her again.

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22 Responses to In Memoriam: Valerie Holladay

  1. Josi says:

    Thank you for putting this together, Andrew. Lots of tender thoughts.

  2. Praying for all of you and the family. I didn’t know her, but wish I had. You have done her a great service here.

  3. Thank you, Andrew. I read these tributes with tears streaming down my cheeks. We know how much she changed our lives and how much we loved her, but to realize how much other people cherished her means so much to us.

    Bless you for taking the time to honor Valerie.

    We are putting together a music video of her life and will have a special display of her books and articles that you can enjoy before the memorial. Because of the travel distance, a luncheon for all of our guests will be served immediately afterwards. We hope that as many of you as possible will be able to join us. We will love to meet you.

    Warmest regards,

    Teresa Holladay

  4. Marcus Smith says:

    Just under a year ago, Valerie began work as my producer for the radio program “Thinking Aloud.” I had first met Valerie at the BYU Humanities Publication Center in the mid 90s. We renewed our friendship again in this new context, in which she was eagerly acquiring broadcast production skills. I remember so well her reflective and sincere manner, as she was deciding whether she should try something so new and different as radio. Not many people can jump ship so fearlessly. “I’m going to do this,” she said, as she sucked in her breath. She told me that she wanted to grow and learn and stretch and try something very new. Her professionalism, love of people, and optimism put her in that class of one in a million. Especially her optimism. As I spoke with her just a couple of weeks ago, she still was talking about her illness as a journey and a ride: “It will be interesting to see how this goes and where it takes me.” And also “I will not let my life be defined by cancer.” Valerie always wanted to define her life in the best way: with deep intentionality. I think she always knew how to choose. I love humans beings who know how to choose as she. Never the course of least resistance. Never floating aimlessly. Always deciding, and knowing one’s reasons. That’s the Valerie I know and deeply admire. Valerie, God bless you and thank you for your friendship!

    • Thank you Andrew for your thoroughness. Valerie will always be with me because she made such a strong impact on me both professionally and personally. I’ve been touched by your tribute to her and those written by others who grew so much through their association with her.

  5. Scott Parkin says:

    A good person, a good friend, and a passionate advocate for Mormon literature. I already miss her.

  6. I was very sad to hear about Valerie’s passing. Like many others, she has been a mentor in my writing career. When I was given a revision request from Covenant for a book I’d submitted, Valerie gave me some much needed advice. I did the revision based on her recommendation and resubmitted. Now I have 9 books published with Covenant. Valerie is one of those giving and selfless people who made a major difference in so many lives. She will be greatly missed.

  7. Dear Valerie… Such a loss.
    She was bright, fun, funny, and deeply compassionate. I remember the way she devoted herself to caring for her ailing mother. And I remember her radiant smile. Mourning with the rest of you.

  8. Pam Murray says:

    Val was a good friend years ago. Unfortunately I lost touch when she moved away and reconnected recently when I found her once again on Facebook. I’m also an avid writer and asked her if she could help give me some insight on getting some of my writings published. This is when I found out she was ill. I received an e-mail just a few days before she passed away. She was still very optimistic. Isn’t that just like Val? I was blown away by all her accomplishments throughout the years since I last saw her. Truly a life well-lived. I’m just sorry that life is so fleeting and that I missed so much of her life during the waning years since I last saw her. Another journey has just begun for Val. Considering these tributes, she has left behind a precious legacy!

  9. Kristine Hansen says:

    I taught Valerie years ago in the MA program in English and supervised her as a teacher of first-year writing. Our paths crossed intermittently after that. I was always impressed by her sincere kindness and patience, especially with those who were suffering and in need of help. She was always so cheerful, optimistic, and willing to help even when her own burdens must have been heavy. I have been so touched to read all these tributes and especially touched by the kindness shown her by her sister and brothers and nieces and nephews at the end of her life. Everyone should have such a great family. I’m sure they were just giving back what they received from Val. I wish I could come to the memorial, but it’s impossible. I will be there in spirit.

  10. Angela Hallstrom says:

    I learned a lot from Valerie as we served together on Irreantum. Her intelligence, editorial skill, and kindness left a lasting impression on me. She will be sorely missed.

  11. Valerie was so kind and creative. I recommended for the “Thinking Aloud” job at KBYU-FM. Heavenly Father must have other work for her now.

    Dickinson wrote this tribute for the sudden death of a loved one:
    “Was not” was all the Statement. / The Unpretension stuns —

    I am stunned, Cynthia L. Hallen

  12. Shelly Johnson-Choong says:

    I was privileged to work with Valerie during our time together at Covenant. She was delightful in every aspect of our work together. She will be missed by many.

  13. Becky Jarvis says:

    I must have met Val sometime in the late 80s when we were both English grad students at BYU, but as I try to think back to when I first met her, I can’t remember. It seems that I have always known her, that she has always been part of my life. I never imagined that she wouldn’t share our futures. For a short but wonderful time, she and her mother lived across the street from me in Springville, UT. We used to take long walks together there and in Provo and talk talk talk, sharing story after story. Even though I’ve only seen her a handful of times since I moved to Arizona twenty years ago, and our emails and letters have sometimes been separated by years, she has remained one of my closest friends.

    Val stuck by me through the anger and insanity of PTSD; she listened and understood and shared stories as I anguished over religious decisions; when my life decisions diverged from hers, she praised my “bravery”—and shared more stories. When I stressed because I had too many cats, she always had more :-). We commiserated about weight gain, mothers, patriarchy’s complications, relationships, employers, money troubles, and cat pee. She understood the loss when beloved cats died and sent me sappy links to “rainbow bridge” stories (stories that still make me teary-eyed). Her writing, both public and private, speaks to me ways that few other authors have. I never came away from a visit with her without a stack of books in hand; she always gave more than she took.

    We had so many plans: to open a multi-state cat shelter together, to own decent cars, to have her as a visiting writer at my community college and in my creative nonfiction class, to volunteer a vacation at Best Friends. I hoped one day that she would finally help find my own honest, authentic voice. Her voice, whether in published writing or her famous long emails or in person, seemed to come straight from her soul.

    By now, I hope she’s met my grandmother. If so, I know that Val is helping my grandma care for the many animals I have waiting on the “rainbow bridge” (despite having her own welcoming herd to care for)—because that’s what Val does, loves in concrete, gentle ways.

    In one of her last emails to me, we shared silly cat stories, how our cats showed their disapproval of various body odors ;-). After reading and re-reading that email, I told myself that she was okay, that her voice hadn’t changed, that she was still incredibly funny, so she had to be okay. Now, there she is, in my email box as always. How can she be gone?

    In her last email to me, on 22 June 2011, she wrote, “I can’t think of anyone else’s life that I’d want. I’ll just keep mine (with the hope and expectation that it won’t be like this forever). But right now I’m in my comfy recliner with my beautiful silky black Sydny, my feral kitten I tamed, just like the fox in The Little Prince and I’m content.”

    I am immensely grateful for Val’s life and that I was able to share in it. I admire her greatly: her boundless love (and cat herds), her brilliance in writing, her clear-sighted acceptance and peace in difficult circumstances. I hope my life continues to honor her friendship and life.

    with love,
    Becky Jarvis

  14. When I was an undergraduate at BYU, I got to know Valerie when I took a fiction editing class from her. She was a fantastic mentor, both capable and caring, and she stretched me. I remember when she had us write out a list of fiction titles to read that semester. She looked at my list and suggested that I replace some of the titles with other works that didn’t necessarily fit my tastes in literature. It was a profoundly useful exercise that helped me learn to appreciate several genres of literature that I’d dismissed previously. It taught me to be more of an omnivorous reader and a much more compassionate, open-minded editor. She always approached the work of authors with such respect, even if their writing styles were very different from hers. That’s something I’ve often thought back to–something that has made me a better editor.

    Later, when she became the co-editor of _Irreantum_, Valerie let me intern with the journal briefly, which gave me additional editing experience. She also gave me rides to AML board meetings and listened very thoughtfully to some of my student troubles during those drives. When she offered words of encouragement and advice, I could sense that there were years of pain and sorrow and faith behind them. She briefly mentioned, in a humble, matter-of-fact way, one of the great disappointments of her life. It put things in perspective for me, and I came away feeling keenly that if Valerie had the courage to work through that disappointment, then maybe I could have the courage to work through mine. She became an example of strength and endurance for me, and my respect for her as a person of faith became even greater than my respect for her as a skilled editor.

    The last time I saw Valerie was in the Lee Library at BYU. She asked me what I was up to, and I said I was still trying to figure out what to do with my life. She said she was in the middle of the same thing. This surprised me, because I knew she’d established herself as a freelance editor and writer. I realized then that she had a lot of interests and ambitions that she was still exploring and developing. She wasn’t a static person, and I could tell she was excited about the possibilities for her future. When I found out about Valerie’s passing this week, I thought of that brief exchange we had, and even though it made me feel sad, it also made me wonder what work she’s been called to do on the other side.

  15. Tory C. Anderson says:

    Valerie and I became freinds when we went through the MA program at BYU. We had lively discussions over cubicle walls in the graduate student teacher room in the JKHB. We studied with Leslie Norris and Susan Howe and shared a love of reading although our tastes were often different. We worked with Linda Adams in the publishing center, she editing and me typsetting. After graduation we both worked for Covenant Communications as editors (during different time periods). I can’t remember if I followed her or she followed me, but we both laughed later at having had the same experience there.

    Valerie was extremely valuable as a partner in running the Wasatch Review International. She didn’t just edit, but helped lick stamps and envelopes and plan our writers’ conferences. The pleasure in working with her didn’t come from her skills as a writer and editor, but from all those animated discussions we had on ancilliary topics while we worked.

    She was a lovely part of our writers group with Paul and Henry and others. She wow’ed us with her “Street Symphony.” Her honest, thoughtful responses to our writings were something I know I sought after. For some time we met at Hank’s house and then we started meeting at her Pleasant Grove home. I would often take a couple of my children. They remember watching one of her cats dip its paw into a saucer of milk bringing out one drop and then licking it off.

    Eventually I moved to Levan and lost contact with Valerie. Years later I ran into her at a Christmas boutique in Nephi, Ut. She had moved south, also. We were both going through “contrary” times and were trying to find ourselves. We thought it was funny being middle-aged and lost. She was unmarried and no children; I was married and lots of childrent and yet we both felt the same thing. I ran into her often after that. We had several more long discussions in front of the milk section in Nephi’s one grocery store.

    My last encounter with her was late last year as her “computer repairman.” I was trying to figure out why her old computer would work everywhere but in her home. I told her I thought it might be allergic to cats. I put in a new powersupply and think we finally beat the problem. But I never called her back to ask.

    The last time I was her was earlier this year. She walked into the grocery store ahead of me. I don’t know why I didn’t call out. I think that I often tired her ear during our chance meetings. Maybe I was being thoughtful that day in giving her a break. Maybe I was just being lazy. I don’t know. I didn’t know she was ill. I feel like I should have. I feel selfishly angry that I didn’t get to say goodbye. I’ll happily tell her this next time I see her.

  16. Hi, Tory and Becky and Katherine and Marcus and all the others…

    I was reading your tender comments to my nieces and nephews and wondered if it would be okay to pull out little excerpts, credited to you, of course, and read them for Val’s eulogy? They’re so full of humor and love and personality and … frankly… you are all exceptional writers and they sound so much better than anything I could put together!

    If you see this, could you please write to me at my email address on the Caring Bridge website and let me know it’s okay?

    Thanks so much, I’m so glad Val had such friends as you in her life,

    Val’s inconsolable sister, Teresa

  17. Carol Miles says:

    Valerie Holladay Tribute

    We have many memories in common with you all: Valerie at BYU, her ah-ha personal essays revealing self and others, recommended books, endless topics. She helped me with an extensive book of classmates’ overviews of their lives, celebrating our 50th class reunion. One year, it was poignant to hear her say she had never had a birthday party. As February was drawing near, we hosted a party for her, to which eminent friends said, “I’ll be there for Valerie.” The party conversation, it was noted, was about beloved pets and their antics, rather than our children and their alternate cutesy-terrifying-despicable antics. She will be missed.
    Carol Miles

  18. Deb Thornton says:

    I saw Val in May, engrossed in a conversation at an intake desk at the hospital and elected not to interrupt, thinking I might cross paths with her after my short appointment.

    When Henry Miles informed me of her death, I was shocked and sad. Remembering Val’s courage in caring for her mother gave me hope when I was caring for mine.

    In addition to her phenomenal strength, her great mind and wit, her kind and gentle soul, will be with me for a long time.

    Godspeed, and I wish you all the best in your grief journeys.

    Deb Thornton

  19. Dan Furner says:

    To Family and Friends,

    I have known Valerie from elementary school days through high school. I was saddened by the news of her passing. She was a gifted, brilliant girl and friend to all. I am sorry that I was unable to attend the services, but have been dilighted to read of her work and accomplishments.

    With love and appreciation,

    Dan Furner

  20. John Bennion says:

    I worked with Valerie at BYU and through AML. She edited a couple of my manuscripts and always undercharged. She is an invaluable friend and talented editor. I’ve never seen her acting in a discouraged manner, despite the significant challenges she faced. I will miss her, and I hope that her family can be comforted.

  21. Meegan Woodwell Toro says:

    Thank you so much, Teresa, for posting on facebook … Valerie and I were BYU roommates and friends. We shared so much: English majors, struggling through student teaching, midnight brownies, aerobics classes, engrossing philosophical discussions, our ‘FHE brothers,’ papers typed on electric typewriters, dating, lack of dating – life was fun and stressful, complicated yet easy. We empathized with each other’s family backgrounds, and, in the way you do when you’re twenty-something, helped each other come to terms with who we each were because and in spite of them. I am saddened to hear that her life ended so early but thrilled to hear how much she did with her life! Valerie’s talent for listening, her pithy remarks, and her desire to love and be loved clearly marked her whole life’s journey.

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