Friday, October 2, 2009

Emma Valenteen - Extraordinary woman, extraordinary celebration of life!

So many family members, friends, and co-workers filled the banquet room at Robert Ryan's Columbia Station that more tables, chairs, and place settings were needed.

Everyone gathered for one reason, Emma Valenteen.

Not because Emma is sick. She was diagnosed in June with pancreatic cancer and given the heart-wrenching terminal diagnosis.

Everyone gathered to celebrate Emma, her birthday, and the gift of her life filled with love for her family and service to her Phoenixville community.


Hundreds pay tribute to longtime Phoenixville volunteer
Friday, October 2, 2009

By Dennis J. Wright

PHOENIXVILLE — More than 210 family, friends and well-wishers came out to honor the life of community leader Emma Valenteen at a tribute/birthday dinner held at Robert Ryan's Columbia Station Wednesday night.

A resident of Phoenixville for 51 years, Valenteen was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and her family and friends hosted the dinner to pay tribute to all that she has accomplished in the borough.

Valenteen greeted everyone as they entered the room during the cocktail hour.

"I feel really good tonight," Valenteen said. "I can't believe how many people are here already."

After Donald J.L. Coppedge welcomed everyone in attendance, Lou Amici and a Mummer String Band performed as the crowd applauded prior to the invocation by Pastor Cynthia L. Krommes of St. John's Lutheran Church.

Among the numerous official presentations Valenteen received were from Congressman Jim Gerlach, state Sen. Andy Dinniman, and state Rep. Paul Drucker.

Phoenixville Mayor Leo Scoda proclaimed Wednesday as Emma Valenteen Day in the borough of Phoenixville. As Scoda presented her with the proclamation, Valenteen was so overwhelmed that she hugged him.

A slide show presentation, entitled "Emma ... This Is Your Life," showed plenty of photos of Valenteen's life, her family, and her friends. The presentation was made by PC-TV's Tom Ramsey.

Valenteen's friend Pat Hagarman read a special poem to her, and Donald J.L. Coppedge read a letter to Valenteen as well.

After Jan Swarr sang "My Hero" in honor of Valenteen, Drs. Lou Beccaria and Chick Coles spoke highly of her.

Lovingly referring to her as "Queen Emma," Beccaria told the audience some humorous antidotes about Valenteen.

"My job is to tell you some things about Queen Emma," Beccaria began. "Not only is she the Sergeant of Arms with the Social Concerns Committee, she is the enforcer. She made sure everyone signs the attendance book. Whenever there is an event and we need tickets sold, Emma would go up to people and say, 'Buy a ticket or I'll tell your mother.'

"She once told me, 'Lou, I may be weak in the hips but I got strong lips.' Emma has been kind to everyone, and she's made a significant impact in the community. We love you very much."

Bob Valenteen, Emma's son, spoke on behalf of the family about their mother.

"My mom is a remarkable lady," Bob said. "Mom had us passing out flyers for Mr. Gray when he was running for mayor. While we were out one day, I got bit in the eye by a dog. She came over to me and said, 'Let's finish this block.'

Coppedge introduced the guest of honor as "the star of the show — Queen Emma Valenteen."

"While I'm strong on the outside, on the inside I'm crying my eyes out," Valenteen said. "People came here from all walks of my life, and I'm very fortunate to have a wonderful family. If I influenced you in any way, I'm proud."

Valenteen mentioned that she asked God to give her until after the New Year because she is expecting a new grandbaby in December.

"I'm going to have a new grandbaby in December," she said. "So I asked him to give me to January or February. I'm fortunate to have my family stand by me through all of this. Thank you for coming out. I love you in each and every way."

After another standing ovation, Coppedge announced to Valenteen that the Social Concerns Committee will pledge $1,000 to Valenteen's organization Compassionate Friends in her honor.

"I can't believe so many people came out this evening to be with me," Valenteen said. "This is one night I'll never forget."

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