Nominated by James Pappas
This was a a Mother and Wife who fought the fight with Dignity and Bravery. She lived for her Children and never gave up. She never complained and accepted this horrible disease.
Below is a small portion of an obituary she wrote partially herself and it says alot about her. She left 2 small boys ages 4 & 7 behind. Please read about what incredible person she was while on this planet. The beautiful, kind and soft spoken Leila Valentine entered eternal life peacefully on October 19, 2015 surrounded by her husband James Pappas and sons Gregory & Michael. She was born August 17, 1966 in Sierra Madre, California to Wanda & Michel Valentine and attended Arcadia High School where she excelled in Varsity sports, swimming, tennis, basketball & volleyball. She continued her education and became a dental hygienist having been known for having the gentlest touch in the business and being a favorite hygienist over the past 25 plus years to some of Hollywood’s Biggest Names including Academy Award, Tony Award and Grammy winners. Leila’s favorite patient was Dean Martin who she met when she finished her education and worked in a dental office high above the Sunset Strip that housed Hamburger Hamlet which he frequented.
Closer to home Leila could be found in her Manhattan Beach home with her husband James, and her two boys Gregory & Michael in which she adored and loved, they warm my heart, was what she would say about them. Leila remained a devoted mother and wife. She enjoyed watching her boy’s ball games, surfing & swimming sessions, paddle boarding with them and riding horses with them. Leila never missed a school or Sunday school play or any activity that her boys participated in. She could often be found bike riding with them on the strand, the swimming pool at the LBYC or reading stories to them. She instilled her Orthodox Christian faith in her children which was very important to her. Leila’s greatest accomplishment in life was being a caring and unselfish mother to her 2 sons, which she doted on and loved with all her heart. She spent every moment she could on sharing time, teaching and learning from them. Leila always claimed that life was finally complete when those boys entered hers. She enjoyed concerts, traveling and had been all over God’s Green Earth from Sicily to Australia even learning to scuba dive so she could enjoy the Great Barrier Reef to its fullest. She looked forward for her annual trip to New York City at Christmas to discover something new and always take her boys ice skating at Rockefeller Center and the Christmas show at Radio City Music hall or Hawaii where she would paddleboard and swim with her boys for hours on end. Leila had a wonderful sense of humor and a kind heart she will be missed by many. She even enjoyed an occasional Friars Roast where she knew half the room from being their hygienist. Leila was a favorite to Jan Murray and Milton Berle who constantly barraged her with material for laughs and would tell her endless stories about Hollywood Squares and the bygone era of Hollywood. Leila had a genuine care and concern for people and would volunteer unselfishly to help others. Leila had volunteered at the Motion Picture home in Woodland Hills in previous years. She was encyclopedic at 70’s Classic Rock and Disco music, naming every song, the year and Band Member from Led Zeppelin to the Bee Gees. Leila was stylish beyond measure almost always wearing her trademark boots and handbags that were such a big part of her fashion persona. She was also an accomplished guitarist and pianist where she was passing the art down to her children. Prior to her home in Manhattan Beach she was a longtime resident of the Hancock Park and the Pacific Palisades sections of Los Angeles.
Leila had done a segment for CNN regarding brain tumors. She once told her doctor “I have no other options but to live.” Leila never complained once about her illness accepted it and handled it with bravery and dignity. I didn’t want it but I will make the best of it and live for my boys, was what she would constantly say. Leila said she never wanted an obituary written by someone else or told. So she had decided to write her own. “I was given the gift of life, and now I have to return it. This is extremely hard for me, but I have been an extremely lucky woman, who led a beautiful and amazing fulfilled life, filled with so much laughter, happiness, great fun with an abundance of love with 2 of the kindest, most wonderful & beautiful children that have ever graced the earth that I love so very much and for this I am so very grateful. During my life I spent many years with our dear friends on the Oceanfront in Newport Beach, to all of them thank you so much for the laughter and the love, those days were some of the most fun and memorable times of my life. They were beyond spectacular and I miss them. I have been more fortunate than most people who have lived despite my illness. I was first diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, in early March of 2012. I was told at that time that I may only have 6 months to live, this was not an option for me. I decided I was going to fight this with my all. Although, I knew an end would come sooner than what I would have wanted, I decided to be joyful about having had a life that was happy, with a caring and supportive husband, who has stood by me through the highs and lows of this journey without hesitation, and who has been there for me throughout our marriage to take care of me and our boys there are no words to describe my gratitude towards him and how he saved my life to be able to enjoy a few more years with our children.
Then there are my 2 precious sons who brought me a love and a happiness that I never knew could happen to a person or even exist, rather than be sad about having to die, I focused on the positive things in my life. I have felt my life was wonderful and as short as the stay was going to be, I have had a wonderful life with my 2 boys and husband and as hard as this is, this outlook worked for me. My belief in Christ and knowing I will see my father that I lost when I was a little girl and who I have missed more than anything waiting for me on the other side has helped me accept what I could not change and have no fear of the unknown. I am at peace with myself, my husband, my children and with God, and on that wonderful note I take my mortal leave of this world, with the memories of my children’s hands in mine. My beloved Jimmy, Gregory & Michael, my wonderful friends who have been there every step of the way for me, and my boys from the first day I was admitted to the hospital all the way to the very end with your visits, calls, cards, flowers, well wishes and endless support how precious you all have been to me. In the days when I was receiving treatments from day one and unable to care for my boys on certain days, my mother-in-law and her husband Tom stepped in and unselfishly cared for them, they never once told me they couldn’t help us or care for our children, always putting my boys first and showering them with love, caring for them, before they cared for themselves and I never forgot it and am deeply grateful to them both. I never worried about them when they were in her care, I knew they would be safe and overly fed with a clean and warm bed and my mind was always at ease. I have appreciated all these gestures of compassion and love more than my words could ever convey to all of you. It has made life much more beautiful and rich to know that there were people who cared about me and my little family. Knowing and loving each one of you was the success story of my life. We will meet again, joyfully, on the other side. As for my Gregory & Michael, always be good to each other and always be there for each other with all of life’s highs and lows for the rest of your lives never abandoning one another no matter what life gives you, never ever stop loving and supporting each other, whatever choices each one of you make be there for one another always and take care of your daddy. Most important never let anyone come and break your brotherly bond. Saying goodbye to my precious children has been the hardest part in all of this. I am though very happy for being able to have what I have had in life, especially my Gregory & my Michael. I will see you all again. Goodbye for now, Love, Mommy”