Arzella J. Valentine was born in Denver, Colorado in 1927 and raised in Mount Olive, Arkansas. At a young age she discovered that she loved poetry and won speech competitions throughout Arkansas. Arzella moved to California upon graduation from high school in 1946 and received an A.A. Degree from Pasadena City College. Later, she sharpenedm m her writing skills at U.C.L.A.
Arzella met and married Fred W. Valentine and became his business partner. Together they purchased James Woods Mortuary in 1954 from Fred’s uncle, Jimmy Woods, and built the business we know today as Woods-Valentine Mortuary. Arzella has been a Licensed Funeral Director for more than fifty years and now serves as President of Woods-Valentine Mortuary. She also worked as a Licensed Life Insurance Agent for many years.
Arzella is a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend to many. She enjoyed a wonderful marriage to Fred for 68 years, until he passed away in 2017. She is a long-time member of Friendship Baptist Church and a sincere Christian woman. She has served in many capacities throughout the years such as member of the Finance Committee, Bylaws Committee, and Chair of two National Tea fundraisers. For years she also wrote the New Members column for the church newsletter. Arzella has served in numerous organizations. Some of her many community involvements include serving as a Board member of the Pasadena NAACP, the Pasadena Urban League, Jack, and Jill of America and Pasadena Altadena Links, Inc. She was recognized as a Platinum Member of the Pasadena Altadena Links, Inc. in 2013. Arzella is past member of the Soroptimist Club and has volunteered to read to children at Pasadena Elementary Schools and libraries for a number of years. She has also presented at many Careers Day events in the public schools.
Arzella has received numerous awards, among them: Women in Action’s “Wind Beneath My Wings” Award, N.A.A.C.P. Awards, National Negro Women and Pasadena Work West “Business Awards.” Arzella and her husband were Grand Marshals of the Pasadena Black History Parade in 2004.
At the age of 75 Arzella wrote and self-published her first book “Growing Up in Mt. Olive.” It is a heart-warming collection of poems and short stories, about growing up in a small, loving community in the deep south. Three years later she wrote her second book “Return to Mt. Olive” with more inspiring poems and stories.
Although retired from full time service, Arzella, at age 95, still consults and advises her daughters, Janyce L. Valentine and Gail Valentine Taylor, in the operation of their ninety-three year old mortuary business. Her joy, however, is spending time in person and on Zoom with her three great-grandsons, Terrell Allen, Jacob and Elijah Fay, and a newborn granddaughter, Chloe Fay. She keeps busy by playing the piano, doing word puzzles and coloring various themed coloring books for her great grandchildren, family, and friends.
Arzella is very familiar with, and a special part of, Pasadena’s rich Black History. She is an icon in Pasadena who continues to support and bless others.
Fred W. Valentine was born in Glen Flora, Texas. He moved to Pasadena, California when he was 7 years old and grew up around his uncle’s business, James Woods-Mortuary. When he was 18 years old, his uncle asked him what he was going to do when he finished high school and Fred said he wanted to be an Architect. His “Uncle Jimmy” convinced him that a profession as a Mortician was worth considering. Fred agreed and graduated from the California College of Mortuary Science in 1942, as well as from Pasadena Junior College, West Campus, with an A.A. Degree in Business.
Fred is a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. He and his wife Arzella has owned and operated Woods-Valentine Mortuary since 1954. Through their leadership, the business has provided personal as well as professional service to the community. They have lived up to their motto “Our Aim Is to Be Worthy of Your Confidence.” Fred is a Licensed Insurance Agent also and has operated Woods-Valentine Insurance Agency since 1960.
Fred is a long-time member of Friendship Baptist Church, in Pasadena and has served in many capacities. Some of his numerous community involvements include serving as a Board member of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, The Pasadena NAACP, L.A. County Funeral Directors Association, and of the California State Funeral Directors Association. He has been a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, the Pasadena Urban League, the Hiram Masonic Lodge, the Kiwanis Club, and the San Gabriel Valley Black Business Association. Fred has sponsored West Pasadena Little League teams for more than fifty years, and his business has donated yearly to organizations with ongoing scholarship funds for youth.
Fred is a loving husband, father, grandfather, and godfather. He enjoys his family and loves to garden. At age 93 Fred still works four to five days a week in the business. He is an icon in the community and is well respected in the funeral service industry.