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Robert George Valway

Obituary for Robert George Valway

February 14, 1933 - August 18, 2018
Londonderry, New Hampshire | Age 85

Obituary

LONDONDERRY, N.H. – Robert George Valway, age 85, of Londonderry, passed away on Saturday, August 18, 2018, with family by his side at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester, NH. He was a family man, a loving husband, a friend to many, a winning poker and checkers player, and a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War.

He wrote much of this obituary himself, paying special attention to the details of his family's military history and the importance of a historical record of his life's work, community connections, and his relationships. In writing his own, he was keenly aware his days on this Earth were fleeting and that his faith would sustain him.

Bob, the nickname he preferred, was born in Stoneham, MA, on February 14, 1933. He enjoyed being referred to as a Valentine's Day cupid. He was the youngest son of the late Henry Leonard Valway and Sarah Adelade Farren. He was the grandson of the late Joseph Oliver Valway and Mary Ellen Lattral, and the late Daniel Farren and Margaret T. Barry. He grew up in Malden and Medford, MA.

Bob was the loving husband of Elizabeth (Murach Fetela) Valway, with whom he shared 17 years of wedded bliss. Bob and Liz celebrated their last anniversary together on August 10th in Kittery, ME. His five children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren have a special bond with Liz, as she is very much a second mom to the Valway kids. Bob wrote in his obituary that Liz was the love of his life. She was also his best friend, he said. They seldom had disagreements and never a real argument, he wrote, adding they often had the same thoughts at the same time.

In addition to his parents, Bob's three brothers preceded him in death: H. Leonard of Michigan, Donald of New Hampshire, and Daniel of Massachusetts. Bob's first wife, Mary Teresa Stuto, whom he married on November 8th, 1958, passed away in 1998 at the age of 61. Together, they had raised their five children in Medford, MA, before moving to Londonderry in 1982. They had moved to what was then a rural area away from Boston metro to gain a sense of peace; they chose a family home that backs into an apple orchard. Bob and Mary were also fortunate to have had a second home at Locke Lake Colony in Center Barnstead, NH, where the family spent many holidays and school vacations together learning to ice skate, ski, snowmobile, swim, fish, boat, golf, play ping-pong, and pick blueberries. A prized item used on Locke's Hill was the five-person toboggan. Each Christmas, the five kids would pose for their parents for the traditional photo card, a variation carried out still with a sense of humor.

Bob himself had a keen sense of humor. An example of which can be seen, he wrote, in his varied list of memberships: Medford Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1012, of which his father was a 1923 Charter member; American Legion; life member of the Disabled American Veterans; Korean War Veterans; Londonderry's St. Mark the Evangelist Knights of Columbus Council 10488, of which he was a Charter member; Malden, MA, Immaculate Conception Parish Council, twice chairman; Legion of 1000 Men at Sisters of the Precious Blood, Manchester; Elks; American Canadian Genealogical Society; Vermont French Canadian Genealogical Society; Medford Minutemen; Gun Owners of America; National Law Enforcement Assn.; American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; parishioner of St. Jude Parish.

Bob loved to play any card games, and taught his children and grandchildren poker, whist, casino and cribbage. His favorites were poker and whist. For many years, following his retirement as a CPA, he played poker with his fellow veteran friends. Bob, Liz and his family hosted a number of poker tournaments, including one in Londonderry this past February for his 85th birthday, and one final tournament hosted in March on Plum Island, MA, that is a lasting memory for grandchildren and Newburyport-area friends of Bob and Liz.

He also enjoyed playing checkers – if he could find someone who would play him, he wrote. Because most people don't like to be continually beaten, he noted, he had few players. He wrote that when his oldest son Bobby finally beat his father in checkers for the first time, his son phoned everybody. It was cause for a celebration among his children and others, and a somewhat humbling experience for Bob. Over a 10-year period, Bob competed in checkers competitions at the National Veterans Golden Age Games hosted by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Bob won eight gold medals and two silver medals in checkers. He also won many more medals in other Golden Age games, as he and Liz traveled to these invitation-only competitions throughout the country. So proud was he of these olympic medals for veterans, that he gave some to his grandchildren to display. Bob was also an avid bowler, competing in candlepin tournaments and teaching his five children to bowl.

Bob was a graduate of the Immaculate Conception School in Malden, MA; Malden Catholic High School, Class of 1950; Boston College with a B.S. in Economics, Class of 1958, and Bentley College. He and his three brothers were all scholars of parents who themselves had limited educational opportunities. His first six years of life were lived during the Great Depression, and that had a profound effect on how he lived his life by being both thrifty and generous. Bob started working at the age of 12, along with his brothers, for their father, who was an independent stone and brick mason contractor. Later, Bob worked as a laborer for several construction companies. In 1952, at age 19, he became an amateur boxer with the New England Association Amateur Athletic Union.

Following college, Bob was charged with overseeing the cost department at W.F. Schrafft & Sons Co. in Charlestown, MA. He enjoyed sampling their chocolate products, he wrote. While working for Arthur Young and Co., he earned his CPA certificate at Bentley. He was employed for 30 years by the U.S. Department of Defense in the Defense Contract Audit Agency, having a U.S. security clearance and performing numerous classified assignments at many defense contractors all over the Northeast.

Bob's public service to his country began long before his office work for the Department of Defense. He was immensely proud of his military service. Bob served in the U.S. Army's Field Artillery during the Korean War from the time of his enlistment on March 20, 1953, until his Honorable Discharge on March 19, 1955. He had 10 weeks of training at the Army's Ordnance School to be an Ammunition Supply Specialist. His discharge at Camp Kilmer, NJ, followed his return to the U.S. from the Korean Peninsula.

He was awarded the Korean Service Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, United Nations Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal.

In his later years, he proudly wore his Korean War Veteran hat, and he was quick to point out when discussing history that no formal peace accord was ever signed to officially end the Korean War. He often remarked that it is the longest war, and a war that historians and veterans often refer to as The Forgotten War.

Bob wrote a detailed account of his family's military service through his painstaking genealogical and historical research and through military documentation and record keeping. Though they were not a military family, many members of the family served their country, he wrote. His brother Leonard performed assignments for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency throughout Europe and the Far East. His brother Donald served in the U.S. Marines in the Guadalcanal Campaign in the Solomon Islands. Donald, along with other members of the 1st Marine Division, gave America its first island victory in the South Pacific in World War II. His brother Daniel served with the U.S. Navy during World War II.

The Valway boys' father Henry served with General John J. Pershing and Lieutenant George Patton (later General) during the Mexican Border War in 1916. Their father also served in the U.S. Navy during World War I on the battleship USS Pennsylvania, flagship of the Atlantic Fleet.

Their father's older brother, Joseph Valway, served during World War I and with the little-known and mostly-forgotten American Expeditionary Force, North Russia from 1918 to 1919. The AEF North Russia, better known as the Polar Bear Expedition, was part of an allied contingent of about 15,000 men who were sent to protect American assets during the Russian Civil War. Uncle Joseph's stepson, George Hickey – Bob's middle name George is a nod to his cousin – was the youngest soldier from Medford, MA, to be twice-wounded at age 18 and subsequently killed in action in France during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. A city park in Medford is dedicated in honor of George Hickey, the city's youngest casualty.

Bob's cousins and relatives also served in the Vietnam War, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Genealogy research confirmed that his ancestors in the Valway line served with the North in the Civil War, in which two distant relatives were killed in action; the American Revolution; and the French and Indian War. The Valway name was Anglicized from Valois, and the family's heritage dates back to Lieutenant Valois who served on George Washington's staff. Bob would note that his was "quite a heritage."

He held a deep love for his country and his family, and he had a faith that deepened as he aged. His mother gave him a Miraculous Medal that he wore on a chain around his neck, along with a Miraculous Medal given to him by his first wife, Mary. He wore the wristwatch given to him as a wedding present by his second wife, Liz. He wore his brother Leonard's gold and jade ring from the time his brother passed away in 1983, replaced only by his wedding band from Liz and another gift from Liz – a ring of the four suits in a deck of cards.

Bob loved the many dogs he had. His favorites were Ace, Freska, Jackson and Doc.

His favorite actor was John Wayne. And he amassed a collection of Wayne memorabilia to rival any collector. Bob was quick to quote Wayne, as well as Humphrey Bogart, from the movies he so very much enjoyed.

He is survived by his loving wife Liz and five children: son Robert M. Valway of Tewksbury, MA, and his life-partner Ann Marie Tramontozzi; daughter Virginia M. Eramo of Newburyport, MA, and her husband Thomas A. Eramo; daughter Michele D. Valway Denner Duratti of Newburyport and her husband Michael T. Duratti; son William P. Valway of Portsmouth, NH, and his wife Elizabeth Turmelle Valway; daughter Christine D. Valway of Victor, NY; and step-daughter Sonja Fetela, of Kentucky, and her husband Philip Brown.

He is also survived by his 12 grandchildren, from oldest to youngest: Jordan Lee (Eramo) Becker and her husband Benjamin Becker, Eric Thomas Eramo, Victoria Suzanne Valway, Jamie Lee Valway, William David Valway, Michael Robert Denner, Jesse Daniel Valway, Sean Russell Denner, Nicholas Michael Benetti, Domenic Matthew Valway, Olivia Margaret Benetti, and Thomas Alfio James Duratti; and two great-grandchildren, Isabelle Grace Becker and Lincoln Thomas Becker.

Other survivors include life-long friends Jim and Peg Sullivan, former sons-in-law Michael Benetti and Russell Denner, former sister-in-law Ruth D. Stuto, and many friends and cousins.

A Funeral Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Monday, August 27, 2018 at St. Jude Roman Catholic Church, 435 Mammoth Rd., Londonderry, NH; stjudenh.com. Private Internment with Military Honors took place that afternoon at New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery, 110 Daniel Webster Highway, Boscawen; nhsvc.com.

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory, 1799 Elm St., Manchester, NH assisted with arrangements.

Bob wishes no flowers. Donations in his memory, according to his wishes, may be made to the Association of the Miraculous Medal, 1811 West Saint Joseph St., Perryville, MO 63775; amm.org; or Franciscan Missions, PO Box 130, Waterford, WI 53185; franciscanmissions.org.

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Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104
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