Valerie Irene Erickson passed away in the early morning hours of July 15, 2021 after a long illness. She was 88 years old.
Valerie was born in Roseburg, Oregon, September 5, 1932, but grew up mostly in Southeast Portland, living in a home at 51st and Gladstone. When 10 years old, in the era before penicillin, she suffered significant hearing loss due to complications from ear inflections. In her seventies, she had a cochlear implant that restored her hearing to near normal levels.
Valerie met her husband Kenneth Erickson when both were students at Lewis & Clark College. In the early years, they moved around a bit—Crater Lake, Vernonia, Yoncalla, Scappoose, Manzanita, Nehalem—but ultimately moved to the family farm in Warren, Oregon. Val & Ken had been married for 38 years when he passed away in 1994.
Valerie had a number of occupations over the years. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, she was an elementary school teacher. Later she worked as an Avon lady. In the 1970s, she and husband Kenneth operated Kenerie’s Studio in Saint Helens, Oregon. Her longest tenure was as a locker room attendant at PCC-Sylvania from which she retired in 1994 after 16 years. She liked this job because it allowed her long periods with little activity so she could read.
Valerie traveled extensively, first with her family in the United States but later internationally. Memorable trips include a two-week tour of the western United States, two trips with grandchildren to Disneyland, another trip with grandchildren to Hawaii, a river cruise of Europe, and trips to South America, Africa and Asia. Ultimately, she visited nearly 40 countries.
Valerie was an avid reader, especially science fiction. She averaged three books a week and once received a phone call from the Science Fiction Book of the Month Club informing her that she was their most loyal customer having been a member longer than anyone else. Valerie enjoyed playing cards including pinochle and canasta, but especially duplicate bridge. To have a ready-made partner, she recruited her son Chris to duplicate when he was just eleven. Valerie had a great love for chocolate, especially Hersey bars.
Education was very important to Valerie. She supported her children in getting college degrees. Later in life, when she was more financially able, she paid for much of the college tuition of her four grandchildren—three of whom are now engineers and a fourth is a newly minted doctor of physical therapy.
Later in life Valerie moved to Saint Helens, Oregon, where she had a home with a spectacular view of the Columbia River. Valerie would spend her time reading sci-fi and watching the Osprey fly their daily patrols hunting for fish to feed their young. Valerie suffered a long, slow decline but was able to live independently into her 80s thanks to Ruth Long, who served as her care giver for many years. She spent the last five years of her life in a memory care unit. A significant event late in her life was meeting face-to-face her first great-grandchild.
Valerie is predeceased by her husband Kenneth and by her parents Westly and Hazel Williams. She is survived by her sons—Christopher and Marcus, her four grandchildren—Andrew, Kendall, Monica and Michelle, and her great-grandchild—Aliza.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity.