Grant Valentine survived Great Depression and served in both WWII fronts before successful career with Shell Oil

REGAL COURIER PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - In his Summerfield home, Grant Valentine poses with his four published books on an expansion table that he built 76 years ago so he and his wife Frances could entertain guests in their small apartment.If Grant Valentine could turn himself into a book, all he would need are the front and back covers to wrap around his 99 years of life. But he is all about the future, starting with booking the Summerfield Clubhouse in June 2018 for his 100th birthday party and planning his annual fishing trip to Alaska.

Valentine has lived through events that most people only read about. Born June 14, 1918, his family lived through the Great Depression, and he served in both theaters of World War II before enjoying a long career as a geologist. After retiring, Valentine became a marathon runner and has published four books, including his autobiography, "Country Bumpkin," with a fifth book scheduled for publication next year.

Valentine dedicated his first book, "Country Bumpkin," to his late wife of 63 years, Frances Mary Cornelia Nelson Valentine, "a loving wife, mother, companion and friend," and next wrote her biography.

"She died in 2005, and I was busy working on my books for three years," Valentine said. "I was trying to make up my mind if I wanted independence or companionship. I went to a party at my son's neighbor's house on the river in Milwaukie and met Ilene Tamlyn while I was still trying to make up my mind. She is 11 years younger than me, and I didn't want her to be responsible for me since statistically something would happen to me first.

"I invited her to go to dinner at Stanford's, and she later went to the restroom," he added. "When she came out, she said, "I didn't put on lipstick so you could kiss me.' I did. I asked her what kind of relationship she wanted, and she said, 'Romantic.'"

The pair decided they wouldn't get married because they didn't want to mix their finances, so they moved in together in a house on Bull Mountain in 2009, became engaged and spent several happy years together until she moved into an assisted-living facility in Lake Oswego, but Valentine visits his fiancée regularly.

Living on the Summerfield golf course is a far cry from Valentine's rugged youth in rural Canada. He was born in Everett, Wash., and his delivery by Dr. Forest cost $25. Years later his wife Frances said, "Probably what you were worth!"

Valentine's parents later had a daughter and another son, and among his first recollections is living on Horne Lake on Vancouver Island in Canada, where his dad worked at a logging camp and the family lived in a "shake shack" with no indoor plumbing or running water.

When Valentine was 7 years old, the family moved to Nanaimo so he could attend school. Times were tough from 1925 to 1932, and the family lived off fruit and vegetables they raised at Lake Roesiger plus game the father hunted and fish that Valentine caught.

COURTESY OF GRANT VALENTINE - Grant Valentine holds snowshoes he used on trap lines in Scenic, Wash., when he was a junior at Skykomish High School in 1935.
The family moved to tiny Scenic, Wash., (a town no longer found on current maps) when Valentine was ready to start high school, and his dad got a job with the highway department in Index. At age 15, Valentine had never been to a dentist, so his first visits were "expensive." His dentist charged $4 per filling while other dentists charged $2, but his dentist used Novocain. Valentine had 26 fillings done over several weeks for a cost of $104.

Valentine also learned to ski at Scenic, starting on "cheap pine skis with no bindings, just heavy rubber bands that went under my foot ahead of the leather toe strap and behind my heel… that were hard to climb with." He later got a pair of ash skis from Sears Roebuck with "rudimentary metal bindings but lacking metal edges."

In Skyomish, Valentine met his future wife, Frances, "a beautiful girl with cleanly chiseled features like classic Italian marble statues. She had lovely, lightly tanned skin, short wavy hair and a gorgeous figure."

Recruiters from Washington State College offered Valentine, who was class valedictorian at his high school graduation, free room and board for one semester. At WSC, Valentine decided to major in geology and also joined ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps).

He had purchased a 1918 Dodge Coupe for $25 and later sold it to buy a 1929 Model A Ford two-door sedan for $135. "In the woodshed in Scenic, my mother and I painted it gray with large crimson cougars on each side that ran the length of the car," Valentine wrote. "It made quite a splash on campus in its school colors…"

His brother traded his 1933 Plymouth coupe for Valentine's Model A, "and that was the car in which I sparked Frances," he wrote. She graduated from high school two years after Valentine and eventually ended up at WSC, where they fell in love. He got his bachelor of science degree in June 1941, and they were married Aug. 30, 1941.

Settling in Pullman and renting an apartment for $25 per month, Valentine started graduate school while France was an undergraduate, earning a master of science degree in geology in May 1943. Around that time, Valentine got a notice from the draft board stating he was classified 1-A, "which meant entry into the service was imminent."

COURTESY OF GRANT VALENTINE - With German-held territory in the background, Staff Sgt. Grant Valentine triangulates a point overlooking Vergato a few days before the final Allied drive in Italy during World War II.
On Oct. 21, 1943, Valentine was inducted into the Army and sent to Camp Roberts, Calif., for basic training. "At Camp Roberts, I volunteered for the 10th Mountain Division and trained at Camp Hale, Colo.," he said. "From Camp Hale, we were shipped to Camp Swift, Texas, and from Camp Swift, we shipped overseas."

Valentine's unit boarded a troop ship bound for Naples, Italy, and with German U-boats prowling the Atlantic, it was part of a convoy escorted by destroyers.

In Italy, the Americans worked with the British to chase the Germans out of Italy, and Valentine, who was part of the 7th Army, noted that "the Italian people hailed us as saviors." The Russians kept advancing toward eastern Italy, so Valentine's outfit was sent to halt their advance.

Next he was assigned to the 55th Engineering Battalion, a photographic and mapmaking unit, which was transported across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean to the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

COURTESY OF GRANT VALENTINE - Grant Valentine (center, facing the camera) is part of a landing at Manila in the Philippines in August 1945 just after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.
"As we neared the island, we watched a U.S. destroyer sink a Japanese submarine that had surfaced in shallow water near shore," Valentine wrote. "This was our first sign of war in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, leaving everyone a little jumpy…

"The Japanese signed the surrender papers aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay while we were there," he added. "The 101st Airborne Division began occupation and disarmament of the Japanese, and our orders were to join them."

Valentine's unit was sent home in January 1946, and he wrote, "After two crossings of the Atlantic Ocean, two across the Pacific, and time spent on LCIs (landing craft infantry) and LCTs (landing craft tank), I had more sea time than many sailors."

{img:170489}Valentine was discharged at Fort Lewis and hired by the Washington Division of Mines and Geology. He and Frances decided to start a family, but the first baby was strangled by the umbilical cord at birth; weeks later they were able to adopt a 6-week-old boy and later had a daughter.

In 1949 the Shell Oil Company hired Valentine, and the family moved to Southern California before he was transferred to Portland for a project.

"Big changes were taking place in the Alaska Division of the Shell Oil Company (that included Washington and Oregon)," Valentine wrote. He was promoted to district geologist in charge of work in Washington and Oregon, where there was increased interest in oil and gas exploration.

In 1964, Valentine was sent back to Los Angeles for a couple years until another move came along a couple of years later.

"The offshore potential in the Gulf of Alaska was also being considered by a number of oil companies, including Shell," wrote Valentine, who was sent to Cape Yakataga to evaluate the conditions before returning to LA.

COURTESY OF GRANT VALENTINE - Grant Valentine is shown doing field investigations for the Shell Oil Company in Alaska in 1970.
In 1971 Valentine was promoted to manager of geology for the Alaska Division and charged with the responsibility of planning field support for exploration and supervision of field parties.

In the early '70s, Shell moved its corporate headquarters from New York City to Houston, and because Valentine had a vested interest in the company and was a few years away from retirement, he and Frances moved there. For eight years Valentine worked as manager of geology, which included frequent trips to Alaska, before retiring in 1981 and moving to Washington.

COURTESY OF GRANT VALENTINE - Grant Valentine finishes the 15K Cascade Runoff in Portland, Ore., on June 24, 1984.Valentine worked for 10 more years as a geology consultant and also took up running; after participating in four marathons, the 64-year-old ran the Apple Blossom 10K in Wenatchee, Wash., in 1981. Valentine took first place in his age group and did it again at the Portland Marathon, qualifying for the Boston Marathon. He went on to run races in dozens of states and 12 countries.

The Valentines took several trips abroad, including New Zealand, Australia, China and Indonesia, and they spent many winters in Arizona. He has seven grand-children and three great-granddaughters.

His other books include "Josie's Girl" (his wife's biography); a children's book called "The Robin Family" that every child in the Valentine family receives; and "Grandpa's Gizmos and Gadgets."

Valentine moved into Summerfield in three years ago.

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