OUR GAL VAL
by Jane Hill
Our Gal Val Valerie Sukovaty (née Deardorff) is a west coast girl through and through. Born and raised in Portland, Val completed two years of college at Willamette University, then finished her degree in social work at the University of Washington. Don't think for a minute, though, that Val’s experiences are relegated to the Northwest! She has traveled a good part of the world, relishing all those experiences which buoyed her interest in and love of history. Particularly happy with the program “Voyages in Antiquity”, Val cites Turkey as a special favorite place. She not only travels to places of her interests; she also reads and researches the history, geology and importance of these areas.
Val’s early married life was filled with family hiking and backpacking trips all around the Northwest. Husband George wended a much more circuitous route to end up in this area, however. Raised in Budapest and growing up during dangerous times in that part of the world, George had decided to find more secure surroundings. From Budapest he made his way first to the University of Vienna, then to the University of Bordeaux in France, and finally in 1949 to the States and the University of Iowa. After graduation George and a buddy road tripped to the west coast. And, finally in the real American West, one day George slid into one side of the double chair lift on Stevens pass. . . next to Val! Imagine the puzzle pieces that had to fall into place for that fateful meeting to occur!
George worked for Boeing; four children and several years later, he and Val began to tire of corporate life on the West side. Zoning laws were being written in their area in a proindustry direction. Val had devoted much of her energy to the “Save the Sammamish” campaign with the successful end of creating the trail from Redmond through the valley and Bothell to connect with the Burke-Gillman Trial. But things were definitely changing, so the Sukovaty family began driving around to find a new community to call home. Having decided to remain in Washington State, they learned about the opening of Highway 20 in 1972; so, lucky for us, the Winthrop-Twisp area won their hearts for a new home.
The family settled in at the Crown S Ranch where their fifth child was born. They worked in real estate, sold cedar log homes and Fiberglas swimming pools, and at one time owned an antique shop in Winthrop.
Val’s career in social work took her to the Nespelen Reservation. The office for this work was in the basement of what is now Rawson’s Department Store in Okanogan. These were the years of cigarette smoking everywhere, and Val left this job when, pregnant with that fifth child, she simply couldn’t abide the smoke in that basement room.
George died in 2009 after 55 years of marriage. Val has remained a treasured member of our community, always stepping up to help with good causes. We Methow at Home members owe Val a great debt of gratitude for keeping the spark of this good idea alive through some difficult times. Val lauds the family and community spirit of our Valley and loves the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Bill Hottell’s history classes. She relishes her time as Guardian Angel to Terry Rimby. And she remains closely connected with her family as all five of Val’s children (and three grandchildren) live in Washington State, two here in the Valley.
A recent joy for Val was the entire family’s gathering to celebrate the awarding of first daughter Beckey’s PhD. in Santa Barbara. Mary, Diane, Louis, Gary and families joined mom Val and Beckey for this family celebration.
Val reminds us all to keep active while aging in place, to remain engaged in an activity meaningful to us. And she sets the example, of course. You may want to ask Val about her upcoming travel plans: in the fall she’ll be going with Elderhostel to Quebec City and the Bay of Fundy. An interesting conversationalist, an eager and well-informed traveler, a community activist, a loving friend — that's our gal Val.