Kent Ledford VALENTINE

VALENTINE, Kent Ledford
Beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle, Kent Valentine died peacefully in his home on January 6, 2014. He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Andrea Slavin, as well as his daughters Karen Valentine (Mike) and Deborah Velthoen (Gerrit), his brother Kirk Valentine, sister Kristin Mariconda, four grandchildren, Milo, Ava, Levi, and Henk, and his first wife, Barbara Lind.

Kent Valentine was born on May 19, 1938 in San Francisco and grew up in nearby Stockton. As a child he was interested in flowers and plants, even winning prizes and ribbons at the San Joaquin County Fair. In 1958, he attended the University of Alaska-before Alaska officially became a state-where he studied wildlife management and was a volunteer fireman.

Kent had a wide-ranging career that included service as a medic in the United States Army, a travel guide escorting group tours, a yacht broker, and a seller of premium wines. He went back to school at the age of 53, earned a degree in horticulture and became a groundskeeper for California State Exposition Fairgrounds, specializing in colorscaping.

Throughout his career Kent volunteered for several organizations. In retirement Kent became involved with the California Native Plant Society and conservation of the Vernal Pools at Mather Field, documenting the tiny but important flowers and water species with his macro-lens camera. He and his wife Andrea traveled extensively, spending time with friends and family and visiting interesting places and monuments around the United States.

Known for his silver mane and bushy beard, Kent first put on a Santa Claus suit for Christmas the year that his second daughter was born, and he continued to play the part for family and charity events every year that followed. Like Santa Claus, he was known for his generosity, kindness, and deep laugh.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to the 'Kent Valentine and Bill Wingfield Memorial Education Fund' at Sacramento Valley Chapter - California Native Plant Society (SVC-CNPS), at 2140 Chase Dr., Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.

A celebration of Kent's life will be held April 26, 2014, at his home in Sacramento.

Published in The Sacramento Bee on Jan. 26, 2014