January 29, 1945 - March 18, 2010
January 29, 1945 - March 18, 2010
Valenta, Kathleen Jane Orr, 65, of Pompton Lakes, formerly of Wyckoff, NJ, passed away on March 18, 2010 after a long battle with multiple myeloma. Kathy is survived by her husband Jerry, her son Richard, daughter-in-law Susan and grandson Andy, and by her daughter Kate, son-in-law Alex and granddaughter Olivia. She is also survived by her siblings, Robert, Gary and Geraldine Orr. Kathy and Jerry met while attending Ramapo High School in Franklin Lakes, and enjoyed 50 years together, 45 of them as a married couple. Although their initial meeting was due to a case of mistaken identity, Jerry has always said “it was the best mistake of my life”. Together, Kathy and Jerry lovingly restored Wyckoff’s John C. Stagg Homestead, a once-condemned 1790 Dutch Colonial sandstone structure which is now protected on the National Register of Historic Places.
After earning a bachelor’s degree from Douglass College at Rutgers University and a master’s degree in Communication Disorders from William Paterson University, Kathy began a career as a speech pathologist and audiologist in association with several area doctors and hospitals. She then opened Inter-Communication Services/Earlab with partner Dr. Gary Hilt, a private practice offering evaluation and treatment for auditory and language-based learning disabilities. During her active years as a professional, she was Chief of Speech Pathology at Valley Hospital, was appointed to advisory councils for the NJ Departments of Health and Higher Education, and served on the NJ Board of Medical Examiners Committee for Hearing Aid Dispensers. She also served as president of the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1984-85), and was honored by that organization in 1986 for landmark changes instituted during her presidency.
Kathy touched and changed the lives of many people through her work and made significant contributions to her field, yet she also remained devoted to her children, extended family and friends, maintaining traditions with an uncommon generosity of spirit. When diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1997, she refused to allow the disease to define her life, and continued to cultivate her relationships and her deep love of travel. Her 13-year battle with cancer was characterized by determination, optimism, tremendous bravery, strength of will, great humor and unending love for her two grandchildren (a.k.a. her “best medicine”). As a patient, Kathy continually educated herself about advances in treatment, was proactive about her own care, and served as a resource for others who were struggling with a multiple myeloma diagnosis. By maintaining an astonishingly positive attitude, she made a difficult journey much easier for her loved ones. Kathy inspired those she knew to live life to the fullest, and most of all, she wanted us to continue to celebrate life after her passing.
Those who wish to express their condolences are invited to join Kathy’s family at Vander Plaat funeral home, 257 Godwin Avenue, Wyckoff, NJ on April 15, 2010 from 2-4pm and 7-9pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, 5th Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851 (203) 229-0464 (www.themmrf.org).
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