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Doctor, Gainesville sports fan Valentine dies at 91

POSTED: January 8, 2009 12:19 a.m.
/For The Times

H.E. "Herb" Valentine, a longtime Gainesville physician, with his wife, Bonnelle, attended the 2007 dedication of the weight-training center that bears his name at Gainesville High School.

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H.E. "Herb" Valentine, who practiced internal medicine in Gainesville for more than 40 years, died Tuesday at his home after an extended illness. He was 91.

Valentine was a member of the first medical staff of Hall County Hospital, the previous name of Northeast Georgia Medical Center. He served as the hospital’s chief of staff and was president of the Hall County Medical Society.

He was a avid supporter of Gainesville High School athletics. In 2007, the school system honored him with the naming of the Herbert Valentine Center, a weight-training facility located on the high school campus.

Dick Valentine, one of four sons, said his father was a loyal fan of the high school where each of his sons played varsity sports.

"He loved all Gainesville sports," he said, adding that his father continued to go to football games even after his heath was declining. "He would drive his truck up to the field and watch practices."

In an article published for the hospital’s 50th anniversary in 2001, Valentine reflected on the early days of his practice in Gainesville

"It was a very different time," Valentine said. "Overall we were serious young men. We had come home from duty overseas. We were earnest and ready to settle down with our families and build our community."

Valentine earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia before coming south to Emory
University in Atlanta for his internship. After a year at Emory, he was off to Charleston for three months with the Navy and then to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for medical officer training.

He served overseas in World War II with the Marine’s First Division until the war ended. He served in three campaigns in the Pacific with the occupation troops in China.

He began his practice in Gainesville in 1948.

Henry Jennings, a longtime Gainesville physician who began his practice here in 1953, said he and Valentine would cover for one another on days off when each had a solo practice.

"He was a very fine and caring doctor," Jennings said. "He was very sensitive to the needs of his patients and took good care of them."

Dick Valentine said his father would make house calls to rural areas of Dawson and Forsyth counties, and often found that his patients could offer only vegetables from their garden or a jar of honey in payment.

"He was the most generous, caring, unassuming man I’ve ever known," he said.

Herbert Valentine Jr. was born and raised in Valentines, Va., a town near the Virginia-North Carolina border that was founded by and named for his ancestors. He earned his undergraduate degree at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.

He is survived by his wife, Bonnelle Lawson Valentine, and two other sons, Tommy Valentine of Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Mike Valentine of Lynchburg, Va.

A fourth son, Herbert E. "Boots" Valentine III, died in 1970.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul United Methodist Church on Washington Street under the direction of Mason & Ward Funeral Home.


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