The National Association of Funeral Directors and Morticians bestowed their Living Legends award on Fred and Arzella Valentine for their long years of service and work in the Funeral Industry. The honor was bestowed on the Valentines at the organization's annual meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, this summer.
The Valentines purchased the Woods Valentine Mortuary in 1954 from Fred's uncle, James Woods. The Woods Valentine Mortuary has served Southern California for over 80 years. Daughters Gail and Janice represent the third generation to manage the business. Their two granddaughters, Gemia and Gianna, both USC graduates, have embarked on their own career paths in law and medicine but are also involved in the business.
The Valentines, who have celebrated over 63 years of marriage, were also recently honored by the Links Incorporated with a Platinum Award for Service to the Community.
Fred Valentine was born in Glen Flora, Texas and moved to Pasadena at the age of seven where he grew up in and around his uncle James Woods' mortuary. His uncle encouraged him to abandon his idea of becoming an architect and attend school to become a mortician. He graduated from Pasadena City College (PCC) earning an AA in business. Following his uncle's advice, he attended the California College of Mortuary Science, graduating in 1942.
Arzella was born in Colorado but moved to Mount Olive, Arkansas where she grew up in a household with her six siblings. She attended high school in Pine Bluff, Arkansas because Mt. Olive was too small to have a high school. In 1946, Arzella scrapped her plans to attend Arkansas A&M and moved to California with her sister, Arnetta, to finish high school at John Muir in Pasadena.
Like Fred, she graduated from PCC with an AA degree. When she met the man she was to marry people had told her was a businessman, what they didn't tell her was that the Valentine family business was a mortuary and he was an undertaker. She soon got over that, and they married in 1949. In 1954 Arzella quit her job as a clerk typist and joined Fred to purchase Fred's recently deceased Uncle Woods' mortuary business from Woods' widow. The Woods Valentine Mortuary is the oldest African American Business in the San Gabriel Valley. It is located at 1455 N. Fair Oaks in Pasadena.
Because of her love for poetry, Arzella later studied writing at UCLA. That love culminated in her writing two books about her beloved Mount Olive city in Arkansas. The Books, "Growing Up In Mount Olive" and "Return to Mount Olive" chronicle her life and lessons as a child in the small southern town.
Fred and Arzella are long time members of Historic Friendship Baptist Church in Pasadena. They are active members of the Pasadena/Altadena community. Together, they are members and/or have served in a large number of community organizations including the NAACP, Links, Women in Action and the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce where Fred served as a Board member. Fred has also served in the California Funeral Directors Association and as President of the Los Angeles County Funeral Directors.
They are truly living Legends and living role models for families and couples wanting to thrive in marriage and in business together.