Valerie Ann LeGrand (Burow/Tobey) passed away on 29 April 2023, being held by her loving husband, Benjamin LeGrand. Valerie had many loving family members and friends surrounding her for the weeks preceding her death. Valerie, as her name implies, was incredibly Valiant in her courageous two plus year battle with Breast Cancer. She had less than a 5% chance of survival for one year, yet she set family goals and crushed them.
Valerie was born to Kathryn Adams and Donald Burow at the Medical Center Hospital of Burlington, Vermont on 21 May 1975. She was the youngest of three daughters, the eldest Nancy Burow and Donna Burow the middle. Valerie’s mother later remarried to Donald Tobey, whom she considered her father.
Valerie graduated from Lamoille High School in 1994. She went on to graduate with honors from Johnson State College with a triple major (Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology) in 1998. Valerie dedicated her professional life to the Developmental Services field. She started her career at NCSS before moving to Lamoille County Mental Health Services for 20 years, rising to the position of Director of Development Services. Valerie is described by her former boss and friend, Jennifer Stratton, as a Fierce Advocate making lasting contributions to the Development Services Systems of Care. Then Valerie moved on to try to be of more service to her community, taking a job with the State of Vermont as a Public Guardian.
Valerie was a fiercely dedicated mom to her four children: Paige Wells (Strong), Jacob Tobey and his wife Brenna, Gabriel LeGrand, and Benjamin Ciarcia. Her dedication was also extended to her three grandchildren: Grayson Strong, Levi Strong, and Samuel Smith.
Valerie would vehemently deny having any talents, especially artistic. The thing is Valerie would always be present with a camera. The images she would take were stunning and were often the ones you found enlarged on the walls of our friends’ and family’s weddings. She loved Black and White photographs as she seemed to sense the correct light. Later Valerie took up painting and created special gifts for her family. Valerie was also an accomplished equestrian and imparted that love onto her children. She felt that animals could help heal an injured soul and worked hard with her Mother Kathryn Adams to build a healing program that included horses.
Val was both fierce and passionate in her lifelong fight to be in service to and advocate for her children, as well as her community. Words that her children have used to describe Valerie include: graceful in her handling of others’ emotions; kind in her reprimands; loving to all; a pilar of strength for those feeling weak to lean on; a loving embrace for those feeling downtrodden; Valiant in her fight for right; and ambitious in her service of others. Valerie always downplayed her extraordinary intelligence, but those who have tried to argue with her when she was fighting to make something right know better. Valerie very rarely lost in a battle of wits. As her husband, I cannot remember an instance. Valerie led by example. She would not do things for those who she thought capable of a task. Valerie would instead give them the support and teach them the skills to succeed. With that said, Valerie would fight tooth and nail to make someone’s life better if they did not have the skill or possess a proper advocate. Valerie instilled these values in her children. To make a true difference in the world, you do not need to be brilliant, beautiful, rich or perfect. You just must care. Kindness makes all the difference, as does service and selfless acts. Valerie mastered all of these.
Valerie and her husband, Ben, were very strong in their Christian faith, although many were not aware of this. Valerie led her life in service to others. Above all else, Valerie was in service to God, and through him and his son, Jesus, to her family and community. Both Val and I had begun to lose our faith before her diagnosis. Her ripples of service came back to us in tidal wave proportions. Valerie got a brief glimpse of her impact in a life of service to others after she received her Cancer diagnosis. Our family was truly humbled by the emotional and financial support from our loved ones at work and in the community that was bestowed upon us. Without all this support, Valerie and I would not have been able to complete this journey with the grace we did! We were never aware of the love that surrounded us. It is unfortunate that it takes this type of journey to experience it fully.
I believe the ripples Valerie created with her fierce advocacy and kindness will eventually be felt worldwide through her family and community interactions. I would not be surprised if it ended up being a tsunami of positive action in our future. While Valerie’s physical journey on this plane has come to an end, she is now in the hands of our Lord God. It is the beginning of her beautiful eternal journey on the next plane. Valerie will now be joined with her first child, Meghan Cody Tobey.
For those that Valerie left behind, she wanted all of you to know that if you pay attention to the signs, she will let you know that she continues to surround you with her love and support. If you know Valerie and her stubbornness at all, you will understand that if anyone can do this, she will.
Valerie did not want a typical service. She said they were too sad, I argued with her and said they were not for the dead but the living. Valerie said we could have a celebration of life gathering to send her off, but it had to be celebratory in nature. I am tentatively looking at 24 June 2023 for a date. I will update that, if need be, on Facebook.
Valerie did not want flowers, as they have no permanence. Her wish was to support our son, Gabriel, in his college adventures, as he is accepted to Norwich University in the flexible learning program as his last year of high school
Donations can be sent via check to:
Benjamin M LeGrand in care of Gabriel LeGrand
894 VT Rte. 118 N
Belvidere Center, VT 05442
Or for those tech inclined: Zelle - firstname.lastname@example.org