When Ken said ‘Be My Valentine’ he meant it! | NevadaAppeal.com

When Ken said ‘Be My Valentine’ he meant it!

by staff

So, what does a Valentine do on Valentine’s Day?

“This year we’re going out for dinner and that’s about it,” replied a smiling Ken Valentine as we began our visit. “Nothing special planned. After all these years it doesn’t mean as much as it used to.”

Ken is 76 years young. He grew up a Valentine and he has had some ups and downs regarding his last name.

“It’s a Scotch/English name and when I was in elementary and middle school I got kidded a lot about the name, especially at this time of the year,” he said. “Sometimes it was cruel and taunting – you know how kids can be – but nothing I couldn’t handle. It was not a problem in any way …. Valentine’s Day is a day we like. Not many people have a day named after them.”

Ken is married to Livia and that’s a Valentine story that should have probably never happened. I would venture to say that when Livia, who is 72, and Ken were born, the odds of them ever meeting, much less marrying, were slim-to-none.

Ken was born in Minneapolis and Livia in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, and that’s about as far apart as they could get. They’ve been married 40 years now.

“We got married in my father’s home in San Mateo at a small family wedding on Thanksgiving Day of 1959,” informed Ken. “We have two children. Ashley is 39, lives in Sacramento and is a civil and environmental engineer. Julie is 37, lives on the Mount Rose Highway and she’s a chemical and petroleum engineer. Both are married and both have two children.”

For all that to happen the couple first had to meet and that took some doing!

“Livia came, all by herself, to the United States in 1956 on a boat,” said Ken. “She landed in New York, went to Cleveland where she worked in medical research and two years later moved to San Francisco. She worked there at the University of California Medical Center and that’s where we met, through friends.”

Ken served in the U.S. Army from 1943-46 in Europe. He was stationed in Germany and when he got out he came to San Francisco.

“I got a job in the insurance industry in claims. In 1950 I moved to Sacramento and did the same there. I was in San Francisco on business when Livia and I met. I also worked in the insurance field when we later moved to Reno.”

The couple came to Carson City in 1992 from Reno.

“We came here because it’s so much more pleasant to live here than in Reno,” said Ken. “We prefer a smaller town. We bought this home in Timberline and have lived here ever since. We love it here and can’t think of anyplace we’d rather be. We’ll live here until we aren’t living anymore … We’ve made our last move.”

Ken retired in 1983. Livia still works two days a week in Reno in the medical field. Livia is fluent in five languages. They are English, German, French, Hungarian (Magyar) and one of the Yugoslavian tongues..

“I speak two languages,” said a laughing Ken. “English and profane!”

Both Ken’s and Livia’s parents have passed away. His dad Donald was in advertising and marketing most of his life and his mom Elizabeth was a teacher.

“My dad lived to be 90 and mom died in her 60s,” added Ken. “Livia’s parents passed away quite awhile ago. We both had one brother. Both are gone now.”

For fun, Livia likes to assemble model ships from kits.

“We have a lot of them but it’s been a few years since she did one,” said Ken. “We like boating and like to travel and I like to read a great deal. We both played tennis for many years too. Livia was better than I was.”

One last question before I depart. How come you named your son Ashley? Were you expecting a girl?

“No, we weren’t, but 39 years ago Ashley was a boy’s name,” he answered. “‘Gone With The Wind’ was out then and Ashley was a popular name. Now it’s a girls name.”

Ah, well, those things happen and according to Ken, Ashley is happy with that first name and with his last name too.

— Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Hope you get to spend a great day Monday with family and friends and the special one you love … .


A few weeks ago we visited with Bob and Marian Setterfield and their dog Jock. We mentioned that Bob was a member of the Tahoe Dance Band that plays old favorites and good dance music.

Well, Bob and the Tahoe Dance Band (17-piece) will perform tonight at the Ormsby House Valentine Dance and you are invited to get a head start of your Valentine’s Day activities by going and dancing your shoes off.

The dance takes place in the Crown Terese Ballroom from 8 to 11 p.m. Admission is $5 at the door. Call 882-1890 for details.

ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.