On December 15, 1928 James and Annie Mae Woods opened the doors of James Woods Funeral Parlor. Today the business, now known as Woods-Valentine Mortuary, is one of the oldest African-American owned and operated businesses in the San Gabriel Valley. James and Annie Mae saw a need for service in the African-American community and “Jimmy”, as he was affectionately called, went to mortuary school to prepare for the ﬁeld. After he graduated, a funeral home was erected at 87 So. Vernon Ave., in the area which is now Old Pasadena.
Jimmy and Annie Mae Woods ran the business for over twenty years, with the help of Virginia Corry, their beloved lady attendant. They had the reputation of providing professional and dignified service. As the years passed and the business progressed, Jimmy became concerned about it’s future. He began to encourage his nephews, Fred and Clifton Valentine, who worked for him as youngsters, to learn more about the business and consider it as a career. They both entered college and received their degrees in Mortuary Science.
In 1950, after realizing his dream of having a successful business, Jimmy passed away. His nephew, Fred W. Valentine, continued to run the business for his widow, Annie Mae. In 1954, she sold the business to Fred and his wife, Arzella J. Valentine, who later renamed it “Woods-Valentine Mortuary.” They were committed to carrying on the family tradition of providing professional, digniﬁed and caring service. They selected as their motto “Our Aim Is To Be Worthy of Your Conﬁdence.”
Woods-Valentine is a full service mortuary serving Pasadena, Altadena, Los Angeles, Monrovia, Duarte, and all surrounding communities. They offer at need funeral counseling and services, community education seminars, preneed funeral planning, life insurance plans, new years calendars, fans for churches, bereavement support referral and more. They also coordinate arrangements for burial and cremation, and shipment of remains to other states or countries, when requested. Woods-Valentine is well known for its professionalism, cosmetic enhancement of deceased loved ones, excellent customer service and for a staff who is experienced, genuine and caring.
In 1963, the Valentines relocated the business to 1455 N. Fair Oaks Ave., in Northwest Pasadena, where a beautiful new ediﬁce was built. Arzella’s sister, Vannie Brown, Fred’s late brothers, Clifton G. Valentine and James Adkins, and the late Laven Lanier, were long-time and valued employees. They along with many others greatly contributed to their business success.
Throughout the years the Valentine’s have received numerous awards for “Excellence In Business” and for community service. They were proud to receive an award from the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, for architectural design and color coordination. Woods-Valentine Mortuary was the ﬁrst African-American business to receive this award.
The Valentines have served on many Boards of Directors and have been members of many organizations including the NAACP, the Urban League, Pasadena Altadena Links, the San Gabriel Valley Black Business Association, the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles County Funeral Directors Association, National Funeral Directors Association, Calif. Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, the Calif. Board of Funeral Directors, and others. The Valentine family have also made countless monetary contributions to educational programs/scholarship funds, to church programs throughout the community, and to youth sports organizations.
To date, the business is blessed to be in the third generation. Fred passed away May 13, 2017, at age 98, leaving a wonderful legacy. Arzella, age 91, is still providing excellent business consultation. Their daughters, Janyce L. Valentine (Manager) and Gail Valentine Taylor (Asst. Manager), are co-owners with their mother and currently run the business. Their dedicated employees are James Barker, Charles Johnson, James Ross, Jesse Chapman, Claudette Mayﬁeld, Velisa Jeffery, Geric Kenebrew, Carol Thomas and Armstead Chavers.
The Valentine family attributes their business success to God Almighty, to a community that has placed their conﬁdence in them throughout the years, and to a capable, hardworking and compassionate staff. With gratitude they will celebrate 90 years in business on Saturday, December 15, 2018.