Obituary: Richard Valentzas, world traveler, long-time Darien resident
Richard "Dick" Valentzas, world traveler, gifted storyteller and bon vivant, died on November 16. He was 87. Born in New York City on December 14, 1927 to George Valentzas and Madelyn Beaton, Dick was raised in Harrison, NY. After a short stint in the army as WWII concluded, he graduated Princeton where he played for the nationally ranked and undefeated 1951 Tigers football team. In the mid-1950’s Dick toured through much of Europe on a Vespa scooter. He earned money selling encyclopedia's, purchased a VW bug and continued his travels to Yugoslavia, Poland and Russia, where he gained celebrity status in Moscow as the first American to drive across Russia after World War II.
He then booked passage to Egypt and made the 4,500 mile drive from Cairo to Cape Town and continued on to India, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Hong Kong before heading to Japan where he was offered a job selling PX supplies to the military. While in Germany, Dick met the love of his life - an equally daring traveler – while in line to pick up mail at the American Express office in Munich. Audrey Soderblom was a school teacher, recently graduated from Berkley, who was hitch-hiking across Europe and that chance meeting would eventually lead to over 55 years of marriage and 4 beautiful children. Dick and Audrey raised their family in Darien, CT, where they made many lifelong friends. He was an avid tennis player, a member of Woodway Country Club and enjoyed biking, skiing, attending DHS football, basketball and lacrosse games and sailing on Long Island Sound. Later in life he became an enthusiastic chef and relished hosting dinner parties and finishing off a good meal with a Macanudo cigar.
After retirement from a successful career as a Sales executive, Dick and Audrey sold their home and spent the next 12 years traveling by car, motor home and bicycle throughout U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe. They finally settled in Mill Valley, CA. Dick was kind and gregarious - a wonderful man who lived a remarkable life. Dick is survived by wife, Audrey, daughters Paget and Michele, sons Erik and Jason and grandson Jake.
— by the Family