Feb. 24, 1924 – March 15, 2017
Alice Lilian Valaika, 93, of Bradenton, Florida, passed away on March 15, 2017. Alice was a resident of Gordon, Nebraska until September 2014 when Alice moved to Bradenton, Fla. where she resided at Waters Edge Retirement Community.
Alice was born on February 24, 1924, in Stepney, London, England to Henry (Harry) and Catherine Jarman. She met Raymond Edward Valaika, who was serving in the U.S. Army-Air Corps during World War II and was on leave in London. They met at the Royal Opera House ballroom in Covent Garden, London, England where they both enjoyed dancing. During one of their many evenings dancing, Ray proposed to Alice in one of the royal boxes in the Opera House looking down on the ballroom. On August 11, 1945, Alice and Ray were married at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Crayford, Kent, England. They lived their first three years in Plymouth, Pa., Ray’s home town, and then traveled by train with their son John to Gordon, Nebraska, a move which turned into many more happy years. They arrived the night before the 1949 blizzard. Four more children were born while they lived in Gordon: Kevin, Michael, Catherine and Mary. Eventually Alice and Ray also celebrated the births of seven grandchildren. Her husband Ray passed away on September 12, 2003. In the following 14 years Alice was also blessed with seven great grandchildren.
While Ray was a craftsman and interior decorator and later an employee of the U.S. Postal Service for 33 years, Alice went from doing bookkeeping and office work in London to being a full-time mother in America plus had a dress making business at home and sewed many beautiful wedding dresses. In 1971, Alice joined the school system in Gordon where she worked for 23 years until the age of 69, spending most of those years as the office manager and assistant to the superintendent of schools.
Alice and Ray loved their community. They were both very active at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Gordon, and they were instrumental in the founding of the Gordon Senior Community Center. Alice appreciated music and was an active member of the Gordon Music and Dramatics Club. Alice’s children recall many visits to the Black Hills, where the family enjoyed camping and fishing. At different times, Alice and Ray traveled to many parts of the U.S., as well as to Canada, England, and Germany. Alice herself enjoyed 65 years living in Gordon, before departing on September 12, 2014, to live in Florida near her daughter, Catherine. She celebrated her 93rd birthday on February 24, 2017.
Alice and Ray’s children include: son, John Valaika and wife Christine, Leland, N.C.; son, Kevin Valaika and wife Mary, Lincoln, Neb.; son, Michael Valaika and wife Vicki, Lincoln, Neb.; daughter, Catherine Valaika Pollard and husband Jerry, Bradenton, Fla.; daughter Mary Catherine died at birth. Their seven grandchildren are: Michael Valaika and wife Jennifer, Richmond, Va.; Michelle Valaika Rives and husband Cabell, Herndon, Va.; Christopher Valaika and wife Margo, Littleton, Colo.; Stephanie Valaika Gengler and husband Adam, Cupertino, Calif.; Jenna Alyse Pollard, Mount Laurel, N.J.; Drew Valaika, Lincoln, Neb.; and Paige Valaika, Lincoln, Neb.; as well as seven great grandchildren: Kathleen Rives and Rachel Rives, Herndon, Va.; William Gengler, Samuel Gengler, Catherine Gengler, and Anna Gengler, Cupertino, Calif.; and Alyse Valaika, Littleton, Colo. Alice had one sister, Florence Jarman Phillimore, who passed away in early 2016 at the age of 99, near Kent, England where they grew up.
A mass will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Bradenton, Fla. and a mass will be held at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Gordon, Neb. on Saturday, June 3, 2017, at 10 a.m. followed by burial at the Gordon Cemetery.
The family suggests memorials in memory of Alice to St. Leo’s Catholic Church or to the Gordon Senior Center. Donations for St. Leo’s may be sent to St. Leo’s Catholic Church, 228 N. Maverick Street, Gordon, NE 69343. Memorials to the Gordon Senior Center can be sent to 113 East 3rd Street, Gordon, NE 69343.