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Gene Valdes Sr. passed to eternal life on February 4, 2014, rejoining his beloved wife of 69 years, Clara, who died in 2009. Gene was born on August 6, 1917 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the 2nd-born of 4 sons of Juan B. and Dora Valdes. He was a 15th-generation New Mexican, his early ancestors arriving in the then Spanish colony in 1598. In addition to his wife Clara and his parents, Gene was preceded in death by his brother Johnnie and wife Eppie; brother Lawrence and wife Wilma; sister-in-law Patricia; and cousin, classmate and boyhood best friend Freddy Valdes. Gene graduated from St. Michaels High School in Santa Fe in 1934. In 1940, Gene and Clara married and soon moved to Los Angeles where Clara and her family had resided. From 1943-1946, Gene served in the US Navy in the Pacific. After the war, the couple settled in nearby Downey, California where they lived for 60 years and raised their two children, Gene Jr. and Richard. Gene had worked for Ford dealers in the early years of his career. In 1952, he and his business partner opened an automotive parts store in Los Angeles focusing on antique and classic autos. Later they moved the business to Long Beach, California which they operated until their retirements. Gene was a devout Catholic, a member of the Knights of Columbus and served as an usher at the family church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Downey, for 50 years. He was an avid fisherman, both fresh water and ocean, played the saxophone and in his younger years played in bands. He also loved wood-working, gardening and family activities and gatherings. Most of all, he loved his dear wife Clara and personally cared for her during the last three years of her life when she was incapacitated and homebound. Gene is survived by his two sons, Gene Jr. and wife Dorian; Richard and wife Gale; brother Joseph and wife Bernadette; three grandchildren, Andrea and husband Darren; Jeffrey; Justin and wife Trisanna and his mother Kathleen Brady Valdes; 10 great-grandchildren: Wesley, Rebecca, Dara, Cameron, Cailyn, Blaine, Brody, Clara, Savannah, and Gage; many nieces and nephews including his special niece and "Baby Sister", Alice; dozens of cousins, other relatives and dear friends. Visitation will be on Friday, February 14, 2014 from 11am-1pm at All Souls Mortuary follow by the gravesite at 1pm at the All Souls Cemetery and Mausoleums in Long Beach, CA. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Catholic Charities Community Services, 1825 W. Northern Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85021.
Published: Feb. 13, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 44