Valerie June Jenkins, age 69, of Fortuna passed away on July 21, 2023 after a long battle with congestive heart failure and cancer. Valerie passed surrounded by her children and grandchildren with love, dignity and grace.

Valerie was born on January 31, 1954 in Vallejo to Darwin and Juanita Jenkins. Valerie grew up in Vallejo with her two youngest siblings, Jon Jenkins and Saryn Jenkins (Kirk). In her youth she enjoyed many activities but was most proud of playing the flute. In her teen years, she was invited to join the MENSA group, which is an organization of individuals with high IQs, but life had other plans.

Valerie was married and had her first child in 1972. She had wanted to be a teacher. However, being a mother came first. She was an active member of the PTA and had a Brownie troop during her oldest daughter’s younger years. Valerie was very creative and enjoyed making costumes for plays and dances the school would put on, as well as making Halloween costumes and decorations.

In 1985, following a visit to Humboldt County and then having a vivid dream of a piece of property in the area, Valerie moved here. Soon after, she met and fell in love with her three youngest children’s father. She did find her dream property and purchased it. She lived there for a short time but she ended up having to make the very difficult decision to sell it.

Valerie stayed, though, and reinvented herself in Humboldt County. She held a few different jobs but most memorable for her and the community was her time as the cafeteria lady for Fortuna School District. She often talked about how much she enjoyed seeing the children everyday and how much they enjoyed seeing her.

Valerie could be called a walking encyclopedia, with all of the knowledge she had. She could spell and define almost any word you could think of in the English language and probably several in other languages. Valerie was known to love crossword puzzles, she took great pride in finishing each and every one without looking in the back for the answers. Valerie was a “why” person, she wanted to educate herself on everything that she could.

Valerie didn’t always have an easy life, but she was a loving mother to her four children, her son, the youngest of which she gave birth to on her birthday, and always put her family’s needs above her own, with her whole heart. In fact, in 1999 upon hearing that she would qualify as a kidney donor for her youngest daughter, she donated a kidney without hesitation. She would have done that for any of her children, as many times as she could. She made many sacrifices for all her children throughout the years and she was an amazing mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.

As a single mother Valerie wore many hats, including being a father. She taught her children all the things a father “typically” teaches their children, including that no role is gender-specific, which made them admire her even more. She made sure that her children had all the tools they would need to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.

Valerie often made time to attend school events and field trips for all of the children, including her grandchildren whom she had a very close relationships with.

Valerie had many struggles throughout her life but always tried her best to maintain a positive, loving attitude. Despite her own struggles with mental health and depression she was always there for her family and friends. Valerie had friendships that knew no bounds of time. Most memorable are her lifelong friends Barbara Gribble, Dawn Kilpatrick and Jackie Guilliams. She had many friends but these women were her soul-sisters.

Yet, in the her last few years she made best friends with her caretaker, Jeremy Thompson.

Even though she did not feel comfortable with a lot of physical affection, she would hug you with her infectious and beautiful smile. Valerie showed people that she loved them in so many other ways. She always offered a sympathetic ear, an empathetic heart and a shoulder to cry on. Being open-minded was important to her, as she wanted others to feel safe and accepted. In her later years, Valerie would often say, “Que Sera, Sera” whatever will be will be.

Valerie is survived by her four children, Shauna English (Johnson) and her husband Zach English, Jessica Peters, Jayne Peters, and Van Peters. Valerie is also survived by her six grandchildren, Saryn, Shakota, Eric, Carter, Valerie and Wyatt as well as her six great-grandchildren, Makylah, Jessica, Destiny, Kota, Zachary and Saryn Marie. She is also survived by her two youngest siblings, Jon and Saryn.

Valerie was proceeded in death by her parents, Darwin and Juanita Jenkins as well as her two oldest sisters that resided in Kansas, Jacquelyn Gardner and Mina Jayne Littrell.

Valerie will always be remembered as a caring and selfless person. Upon her death, as a final act of love and kindness, she continued to give, by donating her body to the medical science department of UCSF, the same hospital where she had donated her kidney over two decades earlier.


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Valerie Jenkins’ loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email