John Walters Vallely, Jr. of Auburn, passed away April 13, 2020 in Kent, WA after a long, heart breaking battle with Alzheimer’s, at the age of 79.
Johnny, as he was affectionately known, was born in Bell Gardens, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles County, in May of 1940. His family moved to a new home in Norwalk, CA, when he was 9 years old. He attended Centennial Junior High and Excelsior High School from 1952-1958. Always a hard worker, he delivered newspapers early in the morning before going to school. He also worked selling flowers on weekends and washing dishes in a restaurant. Turning 16 and getting his driver’s license allowed him to begin one of his life-long loves: driving cars and motorcycles.
In 1963, Johnny was drafted into the U.S. Army. After basic training at Fort Ord, CA, he was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA for 9 months, before serving in South Korea in the 7th Infantry Division, 13th Engineer Battalion, stationed at Camp Casey about 20 minutes from the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In looking back on his service, Johnny was filled with a sense of pride and patriotism and felt it helped him gain a broader perspective, understanding and appreciation of our world. His grandsons, Darren and Nicko, were so influenced by their “Papa”, that they have now followed in his footsteps and joined the U.S Army and U.S. Marines, respectively.
After the service, Johnny returned to the Seattle area to begin a new life in the Pacific Northwest. For over 30 years he had a successful career with Oak Harbor Freight Lines. He loved his job and the many people he met. Although it was hard work, the job allowed him to not only be of service to others, but also to learn first-hand about the many highways and byways of Washington. For leisure, he would go for long rides on his Harley Davidson through backwoods and forests and to the majestic mountains, lakes and streams. He loved the roar and mist of waterfalls and the smell of fresh air. He and his wife, Carol, were members of the Christian Motorcycle Association for about 20 years. For part of that time, he was a Safety Coordinator for the Washington chapter. He was especially proud of a mission trip he did to the Philippines with CMA in 1999.
If you were around Johnny, you were more than likely going to be laughing and having a good time. He was outgoing and charismatic. He loved joking around, telling stories and at times playing pranks on others. But he was also quick to laugh at himself. One of his favorite sayings was “Ouch i wawa!” Who knows what it means, but he loved saying it! You might find him dancing or listening to music. Oldies but goodies were favorites, especially songs by Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry. He also loved mariachi music, Mexican food, tortillas and hot chili.
At the top of his list was being around family. He would make yearly trips to California with his daughter, Eve, to visit with his Mom and Dad, Jack & Eloise Vallely and his siblings Jeannie, Debbie and Dwight. One of his greatest loves in life was being “Papa” to his grandsons Darren and Nicholas (Nicko). He helped them to believe in themselves and to sometimes “let go and let God.” He married Carol Poterbin in 1998 and formed a strong bond of love with Christ. The two attended Northwest Family Assembly of God for several years and most recently joined the Federal Way Nazarene Church, where Pastor Chuck and several members of the congregation were strong supporters during Johnny’s battle with dementia.
Johnny was preceded in death by his parents John Walters Vallely Sr. & Eloise (Valdez) Vallely.
His survivors include his loving wife, Carol; daughter Eve Christine Vallely, grandsons Darren and Nicko Morris; sisters Jeannie Murphy & Debbie Rodriguez and brother Dwight Vallely, former wife, Janice, along with many nieces, nephews, cousins and in-laws.
He leaves behind a rich legacy of love, having touched the lives of so many. Family, friends and faith were his cornerstones and governed how he lived life.
Although we miss him deeply, we know he is in the loving embrace of God. In fact, he continues to send a few “godwinks” to his daughter in the form of pictures and postcards to let her and us know he is OK and that things are beautiful where he is. Leave it to Johnny to continue to put a smile on the face of all those he loved.
Johnny was interred at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington on April 17, 2020. A funeral and celebration of life will be held in the future when it is safe to do so.
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