Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Remembering Kathleen Valentine

I had plans for my blog post today, but I've put those aside for something more important. Over the weekend a dear friend and accomplished writer died. Kathleen Valentine had just completed the final draft of a Halcyon Beach mystery, which I had the pleasure of reading in near-final form a couple of weeks ago. She was getting ready to publish it.

Kathleen was a prolific writer, setting her stories in her beloved fictional town of Marienstadt, or the worn-out tourist town of Halcyon Beach, and even in the elegant homes on Beacon Hill. She brought to each story a love of her characters, and a curiosity about their lives, past and present. She was an old-fashioned story teller. When I read her books I imagined listening to her sitting on the sofa in a living room with lots of friends seated around, listening to her stories unfold.

When self-publishing first came on the scene, many of us were flummoxed and confused. But Kathleen, a well-established graphic designer, took one look at the possibilities and jumped right in. One of her first efforts was a knitting book and another was a cookbook. She published her novels and novellas, and sold thousands of copies. She sold so many of one title in particular that she earned enough in one year to pay cash for a new car.

A few of us got together regularly for lunch at one of her favorite lunch places. We brought books to share, told stories, talked about our projects, and got ideas for new ones. Recently she had started reading according to a personal goal--to read a story about women by a new author from every country. She was half way through Southeast Asia and part of Africa.

Kathleen regularly worked with men and women who had a story to tell but didn't consider themselves writers. She helped them get the ideas on paper, and then to get the book published. She designed covers, helped promote the books, and took them with her when she did her own book events. She was unfailingly generous with time and expertise.

Kathleen grew up in Pennsylvania, lived in Texas and Boston and other parts of the country, but chose to settle in Gloucester. She loved the ocean and she loved the characters she found in the vibrant mixed community that is Cape Ann. She created another community on FB, where she posted several times a day, sharing news of her projects and commenting on all manner of activity. She posted with humor and compassion, and tried to reason with unreasonable people during some of our most trying times, like now.


I was on the verge of emailing her to set up another lunch date. Now I'll wait to learn about the funeral. I can hardly believe it. Kathleen, you will be missed by all of us.

24 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute to Kathleen. She was quite a woman and will be missed by many!

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  2. Thanks, Michele. I've talked to a number of friends and we're all in shock. So hard to believe. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Thank you for this, Susan. I didn't know Kathleen personally, but somehow through her warm, interesting postings, her pleasure in her craft, I felt I did know her. A special person indeed. May her goodness ripple back to her and all around.

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    1. Kathy, she was a very strong presence on FB. I talked to her through social media every day. She really was warm and generous and kind. Thank you for adding something about her.

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  4. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. Warm and comforting thoughts being sent your way.

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  5. This news floors me. What a wonderful person. Thank you for giving me a chance to meet with Kathleen at Charley's. Such a loss. So sorry you have lost this dear and special friend.

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    1. Thanks, Marian. I still can't believe it. I'm glad you had a chance to meet her.

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  6. What a lovely eulogy, Susan - and how sad you had to write two for good friends in only two years. I'd worked with Kathleen on a web project a few years ago but never got to meet her in person, although I felt I knew her through her FB posts. She was a treasure.

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    1. Thanks, Edith. She was a voice of kindness and warmth on FB, and she will certainly be missed. Yes, it's been a time of losses--first Tempa, and now Kathleen. I'm glad you had a chance to know her a little. We'll all miss her.

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  7. Kathleen was a wonderful author, friend and fb buddy. She never posted anything without making sure it was true. I will miss her so much. I had just finished one of her books a could not wait to let her know how much I loved it. I still can not believe she is gone. God bless a wonderful lady..

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    1. Thank you for posting about Kathleen. I hope she knows how many people really cared about her. Whenever I read one of her stories, I could feel her heart in her characters.

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  8. Hi Susan, I only knew Kathleen through FB (I'm friends with Karen & Cliff) but I enjoyed her posts and she would often react to mine. May she rest in peace and heartfelt regrets and condolences to all of her family, friends and associates.

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  9. Thanks, Jim. She had a lot of FB friends and she spoke kindly and honestly with everyone.

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  10. Thank you for the beautiful blog about Kathleen.

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    1. Melissa, you know how generous she was. We're lucky to have known her.

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  11. Oh my goodness, I considered Kathleen Valentine a dear dear friend and we spoke often on the phone and had lunch a few times a year. Several years ago I saw Kathleen's knitting book " The Mermaid Shawl" and loved the book and her design. I called her on the phone and said, you don't know me, but I want to be friends. We became friends and she designed my book " The Legacy of Three Melissa's". What a joy it was to work with her. I also accompanied her sometimes at a local knitting group. I even became a character in one of her books. God, I am going to miss her. I had seen she just uploaded a new book the other day and I commented about it on Facebook. Little did I know that would be our last interaction. I am so sorry dear Kathleen. I am pretty sure you are with the Angels right now. I love you ❤️

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts as well, Melissa. Kathleen was a dear and so kind and generous to many. It's hard to believe she's gone. In her quiet, understated way she became part of so many people's lives.

      I read her last book in ms form, and I want to think that she in her end found the joy that Abe found in his.

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  12. Dear Susan I just got the news about Kathleen and am devastated. I was her other reader of her stories. She always talked about you and how brilliant and helpful you were. I had just two weeks ago gone over the new Halcyon Beach book with her and my suggestions. She was slightly congested at the time Oct. 16 and said it was allergies. But by the following week, Oct20 said was feeling much better. I just this week sent her a new soup recipe.
    Oh, how did this happen so quickly??? Thank you for the beautiful blog you just posted. If you have any more details please email me or call me. I am so shocked and devastated. Kathleen did the last two covers of my novels. I considered her a close friend and can't believe this./ Again she spoke of you so often with great admiration. I hope to hear from you, Susan. I need to talk to someone else who knew her, and knew what happened.
    Heartfelt thanks and Aloha! Kiana
    kianadavenport@aol.com
    808-895-6241
    www.kianadavenport.com

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    1. Dear Kiana: Yes, this is truly a shock. Apparently, Kathleen's allergies were really a cold that developed into pneumonia. She sent out an email on Saturday night, around nine, and her sister didn't hear from her on Sunday or Monday. She asked the police for a wellness check and they found her.

      She spoke of you often and how much she treasured your friendship. She deeply admired your work and talked about your comments on her work.

      I'll contact you via email and we can set up a time to talk. We're all in shock here.

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  13. This a beautiful tribute to Kathleen. Thank you. I, too, enjoyed being one of her advance readers. She had such a connection to her characters, and it makes me very sad that we'll never know where their lives ended up. I'm happy, however, to say she uploaded her 3rd Halcyon Beack story to Amazon a few days before leaving us. I'm reading it now. Her sisters told me - and posted on her FB page - there will be a memorial service in her home town of St. Marys, PA, on Saturday, November 19. It will be at the church she grew up in - Queen of the World, at 10:00 am.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this, Linda. I loved her last Halcyon Beach story, and I'm glad she finished it before she was too sick to do anything. Her stories really carried her heart into the world.

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