OBITUARY

Lawrence George Valenta

February 22, 1940February 16, 2021
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Lawrence George Valenta, 80, of Friendswood Texas went home to the Lord on February 16, 2021. He was born in Wharton, Texas on February 22, 1940 to Robert and Elizabeth Valenta. He grew up in Lane City, Texas where he attended Wharton High School where he met the love of his life, Nerissa Bryant, his wife of 59 years. Lawrence joined the Air Force where he developed his skills in electronics and served honorably for four years; the last three of which were in Duluth, Minnesota.

After being honorably discharged from the military in 1966, he and Nerissa moved back to their home state of Texas to the city of Friendswood, a suburb outside of Houston. It was there that he began a long and distinguished career working for the Johnson Space Center for 46 years applying his electronics training working in Mission Control as a field engineer. He worked on the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Apollo/ Soyuz, and the Space Shuttle programs. In 1986, he joined the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) team supporting the STA and STA simulators where he worked on the STA’s LRUs (Line Replaceable Units). LRUs were designed and developed to run a mathematical model of the Shuttle and control the surfaces of a Gulfstream II aircraft to emulate flight characteristics of the Shuttle. Since his early days, he has been helping train Astronaut Pilots and Commanders learn how to land the Shuttle as well as supporting the STA during various missions.

He loved working for the space program and was determined to help the space program put the first man on the moon. When asked what the most memorable moment of his storied career was he would say that without a doubt it was Apollo 11. With a big smile on his face and a sense of pride in his voice, he would say, “We were the first to put an astronaut on the moon, we did it!”

The only thing that Lawrence loved more than working at the Johnson Space Center was his family. Shortly after Lawrence and Nerissa relocated back to Texas, they had their first daughter Christina and less than two years later had their second daughter Anna. When the girls were young, he loved spending Saturday mornings watching cartoons, laughing, and being a kid himself. Christina and Anna would laugh so hard but you really did not know if it was because the cartoons were so funny or if it was because their dad was laughing so hard himself. As he watched them grow into young women, he was filled with pride.

Lawrence also had three grandchildren Joseph, Ella, and Grace. He absolutely adored his grandchildren and loved spending time with them. Whether it was watching them play sports, riding horses, attending a school event, cooking out over the weekend, celebrating a holiday or special occasion, or simply talking to them about their goals and aspirations, all the while providing the utmost support and wisdom.

The strength of Lawrence’s love and loyalty was most prominent in his time spent with his fur babies, Murphy and Jasper. Although Lawrence was indifferent to the idea of pets for most of his life, he spent most of his retirement walking Jasper in the park and driving Murphy around in the car.

Lawrence was honest, intelligent, humble, witty, and kind. He was an avid reader and had a loving heart with an infectious laugh. When he greeted you, he always extended his hand with a firm handshake, offered a big smile, and asked how you were doing. He was the epitome of what a great man, husband, father, and grandfather should aspire to be as he provided for his family and lived modestly so he could ensure they had every opportunity to fulfill their dreams.

He is survived by his beloved wife Nerissa, his two beautiful daughters, Christina Valenta and Anna Valenta (husband Ed Jones) and his true pride and joy, his three grandchildren Joe, Ella, and Grace. He was preceded in death by his parents Robert and Elizabeth Valenta and his granddaughter Julia Barch.

He will be deeply missed but the memories and the lessons that he taught all of us will live on forever.

Visitation will be held Sunday, February 21st from 12:30PM-1:00PM in the Chapel of Forest Park East Funeral Home located at 21620 Gulf Freeway Webster, Texas. A Celebration of Lawrence’s life will begin at1:00PM. Immediately following he will be laid to rest at Forest Park East Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Operation Finally Home in Lawrence's memory.

Services

  • Visitation

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

  • Celebration of Life

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

  • Committal Service

    Sunday, February 21, 2021

Memories

Lawrence George Valenta

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Tony Bryant

February 28, 2021

Uncle L was a very funny and kind Man!
genuine! He was good to me when my own Dad James Ray Bryant passed from cancer when I was just 15. He and My Aunt Nerisa were very supportive during that time. and my two cousins ..
Houston was far from Tyler so I did not get to visit much but always will cherish the memories!

My Dad thought a lot of him!

Pam Bieri

February 24, 2021

I am so very sorry to hear this, Larry was a wonderful man! I loved his laugh, and that warm handshake. Sending prayers for his family and friends.

Donald Warden

February 20, 2021

Fond memories of the years that Lawrence and I worked together at the Johnson Space Center Mission Control Center and supporting the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA) is something I will never forget. We worked as a team and enjoyed being part of the effort to put men in space and on the moon. Larry kept us entertained with his many short songs and upbeat humor. The world is a better place because of his nearly 81 years here. His family and friends will miss this humble and kind man.
Rest in peace my friend!

Steve Tarkington

February 19, 2021

Anna, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. You will always have your fond memories of your Dad to cherish and bring happiness.

Steve & Lynn Tarkington
HCA Healthcare - Nashville

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