Dick Valentine will always be remembered as a leader in the Gainesville community.
Whether it was at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, the Chattahoochee Country Club or the Gainesville High School Athletic Club, those who knew him said he was always eager to get involved and serve his community.
Valentine died of cancer Thursday, May 28, at the age of 64 in his Gainesville home.
“He was just one of those guys who made things happen, and just everybody really liked him,” said Valentine’s longtime friend Rob Fowler. “He was just a great guy. Very kind and supportive. He just touched a lot of people in this community.”
Valentine was born in Gainesville and played for the Gainesville High School football team.
After graduating from the University of Georgia, Valentine returned to Gainesville, where he began work at the former 1st National Bank, which was later Regions Bank. He later moved to United Community Bank where he closed out his career. Over his 35-year career, Valentine rose to become regional president and CEO, and helped grow United Community Bank from one branch in the Hall County and Gainesville area to five before his retirement in 2016.
Valentine is survived by his wife Cherry, as well as his kids, Brad Valentine and Leigh Papevies.
Brad Valentine said he will remember his father as having a hard-shelled, tough exterior but a soft center — like an M&M candy — with a passion for helping everyone he encountered.
“I learned pretty much everything I know about life from him, whether it be business, personal or family,” Brad Valentine said. “Whatever it is, I learned it from him.”
Papevies said her father’s take-charge attitude has rubbed off on the entire family, helping her and her brother find success in life as they emulate the qualities that made Dick Valentine so prominent in the Gainesville community.
“Brad and I have been able to build great lives because of what he taught us and how he was constantly pushing us to be our best selves,” Papevies said. “I think that’s how he was in general as well, so we took that from him and never settled for less, always worked hard and tried to be our best selves and do that for yourself and for others. That’s how you make an impact.”
Valentine served as chairman of the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Gainesville-Hall County Economic Development Council, president and campaign chairman for United Way Hall County, president of the Chattahoochee Country Club, president of the Gainesville High School Athletic Club and president of the Gainesville Jaycees. He served on numerous other boards and committees, including the North Georgia Community Foundation, the Northeast Georgia Medical Center advisory committee and the Gainesville-Hall County Development Authority board.
Kit Dunlap, who worked with Valentine at the chamber, said he was always focused on making a difference and moving the community forward. But beyond that, Dunlap said she will miss Valentine both for his strong, loyal friendship as well as his always sharp sense of humor.
“I just think he’s going to be remembered as a wonderful community partner, leader, participant, and a good, wonderful family member and friend,” she said. “It will just be a big, vacant space for a while.”
Valentine’s involvement in local organizations went above mere attendance in virtually every case, as he rose to be president or chairman of the majority of boards and committees he joined.
Over the years, Valentine was honored with the Ralph Cleveland Distinguished Citizen Award from the Northeast Georgia Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Gainesville Jaycees Young Man of the Year in 1987 and the W.G. Mealor and Silver Shovel awards from the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
“I think if there’s just one sentence to say about him, it’s just he made a difference,” Brad Valentine said. “He made a huge difference to everyone he touched in the community.”
“He wanted Gainesville to be a place that we would be proud to grow up in,” Papevies said. “Anyone that was close to him, he wanted to make sure that this was a place that they wanted to be a part of.”