Valerie A. “Val” (Luce) Kelley passed away at Saint Vincent Hospital on March 19, 2018 after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer, attended lovingly by her children, mother, and sister. She was born on October, 7, 1954 in Portsmouth, VA to Richard C. “Dick” Luce, Sr., and Linda J. (Kallio) Luce.
Val graduated from Auburn High School in 1972. In her youth, she was a talented bowler and softball player who also enjoyed fishing. As a young adult, she participated in the civil rights movement, the peace movement, and enjoyed rock and roll music. Her hobby of visiting local amusement parks evolved into a love of visiting the Disney Parks with her family later in life.
Val started her professional career as a Massachusetts State Bank Examiner. Later in life, she served as a payroll accountant at Worcester State University for nearly 14 years, where she was known for her diligence and dependability. She also passed the Massachusetts State Securities Law Exam. However, her most challenging – yet most rewarding and favorite job – was that of mother. Her son, Stephen Jacob Jr., was born on September 26, 1984 and her daughter, Lisa Marie, was born on December 19, 1988. Val was a favored chaperone on school field trips, due to her kindness and generosity in caring for her children and their classmates. She served many years as a Brownie and Girl Scout Troop Leader, and encouraged both of her children to try a variety of sports and musical instruments, without forcing them to continue if the activity was not to the child’s liking. Indeed, Val is remembered by loved ones for her gentle nature and tolerance of differences, without a judgmental bone in her body.
She was particularly active in the community, as a member of the Auburn Junior Women’s Club, the Welcome Wagon, and, in later years, on campus, volunteering for the Diversity Advisory Council at Worcester State and participating in campus cultural celebrations with international students at the same time that her own daughter was studying overseas in Asia. She was instrumental in Auburn Boarders and Supporters, the drive to build a local skateboard park. She was active in fundraising and organizing for the Friends of Auburn Music Education (FAME), which supported youth music activities in the community. She volunteered with the Jimmy Fund for many years. She instilled a sense of civic pride in her children, encouraging them to vote and contact their elected officials, without revealing a hint of her own political views.
Val was determined to graduate from college before her daughter Lisa, and she did so the hard way, taking night classes while still working full time at Worcester State. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2012, exactly one year before her daughter graduated from Boston University.
Val was an avid lifelong supporter of local sports teams, particularly the Boston Red Sox. She also supported Worcester’s professional hockey team through multiple incarnations—first as the Worcester Ice Cats, then as the Worcester Sharks, and most recently as the Worcester Railers. She was a member of the Founders Circle of the Worcester Railers. At the NHL level, she was a fan of the Vancouver Canucks. In her later years, she enjoyed traveling around the Northeast with her cherished friend, John Cournoyer, attending baseball and hockey games at all levels of play.
Val is survived by her mother, Linda J. Luce (Kallio) of Auburn, MA, her children Stephen J. Kelley, Jr. of Worcester, MA and Lisa M. Kelley of San Diego, CA and a future son-in-law Daniel Lim, her sister Sandra “Sandy” Niles and her husband Don Niles, Sr. of Westerly, RI, and her brother Richard “Rick” Luce, Jr., his wife Jennifer Luce, and daughters Josselyn Luce and Taryn Luce of Redondo Beach, CA. She will also be mourned by a big, beautiful family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was predeceased by her father, Richard Luce, Sr.
The family wishes to thank the compassionate medical professionals of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
Relatives and friends are invited to visit with Val’s family on Wednesday, March 28 from 9:30-10:30 AM at Britton-Wallace Funeral Home, 91 Central Street, Auburn. Her funeral will follow with a Mass celebrated at 11:00 AM in St. Joseph’s Church, 189 Oxford Street North, Auburn. Burial will be in Hillside Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Jimmy Fund) in memory of Val to support cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284 or via www.jimmyfund.org/gift.