William Robert "Bill" Valley
November 16, 2023
William Robert "Bill" Valley, USAF Major (Ret.), died of natural causes Tuesday, November 7, 2023, in his hometown of Shelton, Washington; he was born April 30, 1930, in Shelton to Willie S. and Marjorie Anita (Swan) Valley.
Bill was senior class president of and classmates with his wife, Lorena (Deschamps) Valley, in the Irene S. Reed (Shelton) High School Class of 1948. Bill earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree as an ROTC student at Washington State College (now WSU), where he was president of Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. On his graduation in 1953 he received a commission and spent the next 21 years as a personnel officer in the United States Air Force. Bill's Air Force career included a year at the Royal Thai Air Force Base at Udorn, Thailand, for which he received the Viet Nam Service Medal and a Bronze Star Medal.
Bill met his first wife, Barbara (Dunn) Valley, at Washington State; they married at Lackland, A.F.B., in 1955, and served in Libya and Spain before returning to the United States, raising three sons and remaining married until Barb's death from leukemia in 1991. Bill retired at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1974 to teach middle school art and coach middle school football and baseball in his hometown. On his return home, Bill re-started the Shelton American Legion baseball team. Many students and players remember him as a favorite teacher or coach, and he was an unsung hero to many.
Bill was a talented visual artist and designer with a strong sense of color in many media; in 1979, the Mason County Forest Festival being in debt and unable to continue in its present state, Bill, Darrell Andrews, Marc Spiegelberg, and Norm Eveleth were four "yes" votes prevailing over three "no" votes at a well-advertised and sparsely-attended meeting of the Festival Committee over whether the Forest Festival should continue to exist; that single-vote victory resulted in a "green chain" of direct personal appeals to every business in town that in a year paid the Festival's debt and began the process of rebuilding the Forest Festival into the organization that continues to thrive, here, today.
For the next 20 years Bill taught, coached, designed, and, with the help of great friends, built and operated spectacular and sometimes outrageous and difficult floats that won awards for the Forest Festival at parades throughout the Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound regions, including LakeFair and SeaFair. Later, Bill enjoyed the honor of riding as the Grand Marshal in the Forest Festival Parade.
Bill had many friends who will miss him greatly, remained active in the community and the Yesteryear Car Club, was a well-known sports enthusiast, and was a strong and proud member of the WSU Cougar family, receiving a WSU Alumni Achievement Award in 2004.
Bill's sister, Marjorie Ann Valley (Andy) Anderson, a son, Blaise Thomas Valley, and his first wife, Barbara, pre-deceased him; his wife, Lorena, of Union, his brother, John Gilbert ("Jack") (Janet) Valley, of Chicopee, Massachusetts, sons Scott (Jane), of Gig Harbor, Eric, of Shelton, Sean (Tina), of Brier, step-daughter Lisa (Jason) Harper, of Snohomish, step-son Ted Gilley, of Rosario, nephews John (Anne), of Salem, Oregon, and Steve (Mary) Valley, of Shelton, eight grandchildren, many grand-nieces and nephews, and one great-grand-child survive him.
Memorial services will be at St. Edward Catholic Church on Mountain View in Shelton this Saturday, November 18, 2023, at 11:00 a.m., with reception and interment to follow.