My Valentine story isn’t a romantic one but one of tragedy. My grandpa’s first cousin, Gladys Carder married a man named Burke Valentine. Their marriage ended in divorce, leaving Gladys with two small boys to raise. Gladys remarried in 1933 to Elziel Risner. Alas, a lasting marriage was not meant to be for Gladys. In the ninth year of their marriage, Red, as he was known, had a cerebral hemorrhage and died three days later. Gladys was once again on her own to support her sons.
In 1944, Gladys was the victim of a heinous crime. The rumor that went around and the way it was passed down to me was that Gladys was cheating on Red, which she clearly wasn’t, since he had passed away two years earlier. Supposedly, she was cheating on Red with a guy who worked at a dry cleaners in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Red caught them and one of them shot and killed Gladys.
Not even remotely close to the real story. Research in local newspapers turned up greatly detailed accounts revealing the truth. Widowed Gladys took in boarders in her home to supplement her income. One of the boarders lost his job at the tank depot in Lima, Ohio. He returned to the Valentine home brandishing a 12 gauge shotgun, and threatened to kill Gladys.
Her son, Arthur E. Valentine was in the Army stationed in England at the time but Billy (William J.) was at home with his mother when the boarder got violent. The newspaper accounts gave his age as eleven years old at the time, but the records found show his age would have been fifteen. He may have killed her son also, but Gladys yelled at Billy and told him to get out of the house and call the police. As Billy left the house, he heard a gunshot. Panic-stricken, he ran to Keck’s Restaurant, the only place with a telephone near their home.
When the police arrived, they found Gladys’ still body draped across her bed and the boarder dead next to her. The official cause of death on her death certificate states "Shot thru chest at close range with shotgun."
Perhaps, not as romantic as Romeo and Juliet but it is the real, true tragedy of the Valentines.