Obituary: Marvia Valdez
July 31, 1941 – January 4, 2022
On January 4, 2022, Marvia Valdez passed away at her home in Denver, Colorado, following a battle with cancer. She was born in Craig, Colorado in July of 1941, the fourth of six high-spirited children born to Francis and Mary Johnson. She attended school in Craig and graduated from Moffat County High School in 1959. That summer she and Bernie Valdez married. They initially made their home in Craig, and lived there with their daughter Sherri until they relocated to Denver in 1966 so that Sherri would benefit from the programs at the Cerebral Palsy Center in Denver. Marvia and Bernie attended Metro State College and were members of the first class of students to graduate from Metro State in 1970. Marvia continued her education from there and went on to earn two Masters degrees and received her C Teachers Certification during summers between school sessions.
Immediately following her graduation, and prior to receiving her certification, Marvia started her first teaching job with Head Start in Denver. This was the start of a long career in education, which included the position of Assistant Director of Upward Bound, and 20+ years of teaching in Denver Public Schools until her first retirement in 1990. Almost immediately after her retirement she began teaching part-time at Emily Griffith School, an alternative high school in the DPS system overseeing classes in English as a Second Language, Computer Science and GED, continuing until 2014.
Marvia had boundless energy and possessed the amazing ability to connect with students and to show them how they could and should become the best they could be. She kept in touch with many of her former students in person and through correspondence after they left school, even becoming godmother to the first child of one of her students, and she treasured these friendships.
Another career Marvia embraced early on was that of landlord, and, as with her other endeavors, many of her tenants became members of her extended family, often renting from her for years and keeping in touch even after their landlord-tenant relationship had ended. Marvia was also recognized as a neighborhood activist, and was a member of the first Board of Trustees of the Bellevue-Hale Neighborhood Association (BHNA) which was formed in Denver in 1977, serving at least one term as President. She continued to play an active role in BHNA until late into 2021.
Marvia and her daughter Sherri were intrepid adventurers and best friends, and they spoke on the phone every morning and last thing every night. Beginning in 1982 they took road trips in their accessible van every summer with their dog, driving across the country and up into Canada and back down the East Coast of the US. Their later travels included several cruises, and a trip in 1995 to the UK and Europe, with a final stop in Germany for Sherri to receive an experimental stem cell treatment for her CP.
Marvia was preceded in death by her mother and father and her brother Pierre Johnson. She is survived by her daughter Sherri Valdez and son-in-law Ron Roe of Denver, CO; her beloved dog Toby of Denver, CO; her grandson Blaine (Elli) Roman and his daughter Ada of Denver, CO; her sisters Ardith Taylor of Olympia, WA; Treava Yandle of Denver, CO; and Trudy Santistevan of Grand Junction, CO; her sister-in-law Kaye Johnson of Craig, CO; and numerous nieces, nephews and grandnieces and grandnephews.
A Celebration of Life will be scheduled at a later time to be determined by her family.
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