James D. Valentine, Jr DDS Col. USAR, ret
Born April 12, 1952, died March 22, 2018 after a valiant fight with MSA.
Jim was blessed with good people in his life especially Don and Patty Belknap who took him into their home, helped him enroll at Gonzaga Prep, and sponsored him when he was baptized into the Catholic faith . A proud member of the class of 1970, he worked weekends and summers to pay his tuition at Prep and Gonzaga University. After a short 3 years as a Zag, Jim entered the Creighton University School of Dentistry on a US Army Health Professions Scholarship. His time at these three Jesuit schools set him on a life-long path of service and self-sacrifice.
Jim was a decorated soldier, including the Expert Field Medical Badge and the Legion of Merit Award. He served as a field dentist, on active duty and as a Combat Support Hospital commander in the Army Reserves. He happily gave 31 years to his country and reached the rank of Colonel. During his time in the Army, Jim's skills were honed both in military medical centers and on foreign soil. From humanitarian efforts in Honduras to combat support in Afghanistan to field dentistry in Tehran during the revolution of ’78 as well as tours in Italy, Texas and California, he treated soldiers and civilians alike with respect and dignity.
In 1969, Jim went on a blind date with a girl from Ferris High School, Rita O'Brien, and they married in 1973. The Prep-Ferris football rivalry of '69-'70 was a favorite topic of conversation. Together they traveled the globe, sailed the oceans blue and raised three children. They returned to Spokane in 1990 as Jim began his civilian career as an oral surgeon. As a founding partner in Oral Surgery Plus, Jim was committed to being a good boss and business partner. His compassionate care for all of his patients was surpassed by no one. Jim was an honored dental professional and held many leadership positions in the Spokane District Dental Society and the Washington State Dental Association.
In the spring of 2014 Jim was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a degenerative disease that eventually put him in a wheelchair and robbed him of his ability to speak. The disease didn't keep him and Rita from traveling overseas and around the west in their RV, the Andiamo. Later, a wheelchair van enabled them to go on weekly outings the last of which was the Eagle Watch Cruise on Lake Coeur d’Alene in late December. In July of 2016 Jim again was blessed with good people when he moved into the Spokane Veteran’s Home where he received excellent care. He was a popular resident and patient who never lost his sense of humor or will to live. Less than a week before he passed he was still trying to do his exercises. Jim loved his outings to the casino, was an avid card player and Zag fan to his end.
But more than his decorated military career and professional achievements, Jim was a loving father and devoted husband of 44 years. He is survived by his wife Rita; daughter Tina Pitts, her husband Will, and granddaughter Annemarie (Phoenix, AZ); son Tony, his wife Kallee, granddaughters Reese, Emersen, and Maren (Pocatello, ID); son Tim, his wife Alisha, granddaughter Finnley and grandson Jack (San Jose, CA); mother Pepper; sister Cindy; brother Bill; a large extended family and network of friends. He was preceded in death by his father Jim Sr. and sister Tammy.