Diocese loses deacon from first ordained class

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Dcn. George Valverde (-2015)
Dcn. George Valverde (1926-2015)

Native Phoenician Dcn. Walter George Valverde, a family man devoted to the corporal works of mercy, died Nov. 22. He was 89. Dcn. Valverde was a member of the first class of deacons ordained into the diaconate for the Diocese of Phoenix on May 25, 1974.

His ministry began at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale, where he served 1974-1986, followed by St. Philip the Deacon, 1986-1999, and San Martin de Porres, 1999-2004. His last assignment was at St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale in 2006, where he served throughout his retirement.

Fr. Joseph Bui, pastor of St. Louis the King, said Dcn. Valverde was an entrusted member of the parish community.

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Dcn. George Valverde

Born: Jan. 28, 1926

Married: Dec. 28, 1947 to Armida (Pola)

Ordained: May 25, 1974

Service in the Diocese of Phoenix:

Died: Nov. 22, 2015

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“Although he was retired, he helped out on Sundays and whenever he could,” Fr. Bui said. “He showed great spirit and love of the people.”

Bette Regan said she recalled meeting Dcn. Valverde at a diocesan event years earlier, and was struck by his genuine delight in sharing his faith.

“He was telling me about Our Lady of Guadalupe and what all the symbols meant. I was so impressed with his knowledge and how gentle and thorough he was,” Regan said. “I was so overwhelmed that he would take the time to tell me about Our Lady. I’ve never forgotten him or the story.”

Dcn. Valverde was born in Phoenix in 1926 and attended Phoenix Union High School.

He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1943 during World War II, serving three years before receiving an honorable discharge in 1946. One year later he married Armida (Pola) Quesada on Dec. 28, 1947, and they were married for over 61 years before her death.

Dcn. Valverde had a career in government, retiring from the U.S. Post Office in 1985 after 35 years of service in the Phoenix area. Throughout his ministry in the diocese, Dcn. Valverde mentored other deacons and provided spiritual guidance to inmates in jail, patients in hospitals and Latinos in underserved communities.

A devoted family man, Dcn. Valverde was preceded in death by his wife, Armida. He is survived by his eight childrenr: Geoge, David, Miguel, Suzanne, Loraine, Paul, Joseph and Felicia; 19 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrated the funeral Mass for Dcn. Valverde Dec. 4 at St. Jerome Parish. He was interned at St. Francis Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Hospice of the Valley.

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