I wanted to remember Valerie Walton to our classmates. Valerie went to Somerset Elementary early on and then moved and came to Chevy Chase Elementary. She and I became fast friends right away and played together as young girls. When we went to Leland Junior High we all knew that she would be the one to do the solo of O Holy Night at the Christmas Assembly when we got to 9th grade. And she did. She was a beautiful girl both inside and out and had a gorgeous singing voice.
We were not as close at BCC but I knew she went on to college at Swarthmore. By my sophmore or junior year of college my mother told me she had dropped out because of an illness. We never knew what it was until she passed away in April of our senior year of college in 1968. She had a rare autoimmune disorder that affected her lungs and kidneys primarily.
I was home for spring break from UVA and my mother and I visited her family at home. It was so very sad to see them as they grieved over the much too early death of their beautiful daughter. Dorothy (Thea) Smith and I went to the funeral and there were several other people from BCC. Because everybody's spring break was at a different time not everybody was home at that time.
Valerie is not on the list of classmates (since added) and I want to make sure we remember her. She was one of us and a special one at that. We were all about 21-22 when she died. Some of us had experienced the death of an older relative or even a parent. I was in nursing school and I had experienced the death of patients. But Valerie was the first person my age who had died and it was very surreal.
I hope some of you remember her with the fond memories that I have.
Diane, I also spent so much time playing with Valerie. She looked like Elizabeth Taylor. She was in my brownie troop. Last time I saw her was in a shop in Georgetown. She looked so different and she died shortly after.
I remember Valerie. She was beautiful. Dark hair and rosy cheeks. We were friendly and I remember her singing the solo of "Oh, Holy Night." I remember learning of her death and feeling so sad.
It's hard to imagine, as a parent, losing a child of any age. Thanks for bringing back the memories.
Diane, Barbara Gutheim mentioned Valerie Walton back on p. 5, and I didn't say anything then, but must now. I knew Valerie slightly at Leland, but for high school she went to private school. She called me after graduation to get together with a couple of other girls who lived in the area who were all going to Beaver College in the fall. In September we headed off to Beaver and ended up living a room away from each other in our dorm (which was a replica of a castle in Wales). Valerie was so beautiful that she was always surrounded by boys when we went to mixers or to fraternity parties at Penn. She was also very funny and would go into gales of laughter, snorting between laughs, which would make us all laugh even harder. On April 23,1965 she had a date with a fellow I had introduced her to. I was sick in bed with a cold, but she came into my room and convinced me to come with her for a blind date with her date's roommate. We took the train into Philadelphia where I was introduced to my future husband. So Valerie holds a very special place in my heart. Though we got divorced after 21 years, I owe my two wonderful children to her. She didn't come back to Beaver after freshman year, and soon after became ill. When I got married the summer after Junior year, she was too ill to attend, and the following spring I received a phone call from a friend at Beaver telling me of her death. I remember feeling terribly guilty that I was happily married, thanks to her introduction, and she was gone. I shall always remember Valerie.
Helen, thank you so much for clearing up some forgotten memories on Valerie. I hated that I lost touch with her in high school and what a terrible thing to forget that she went off to boarding school. You are right, she was such a beautiful person in so many ways. My mother saw more of her when she dropped out of college because of illness when she came home so most of what I know I learned from her. I'm so glad you had those experiences with her and can help fill in the gaps. I guess I just look back at my BCC experience and all of my Chevy Chase experiences run together. Valerie was such a big part of my life through Leland and I know I lost contact with her but I really had forgotten she went to boarding school. Again, Helen, thanks for sharing your experiences with Valerie.
Diane, thank you so much for your beautiful words about Valerie Walton. I remember her so fondly, and I didn't know she had passed away. She was certainly taken too soon. She was a beautiful person, inside and out. I hope that at our reunion, we will be able to have a moment and a prayer to remember our deceased classmates.