Valrie Friend
July 5, 1948 - May 23, 2024

Valrie was born on Monday, July 5, 1948, in a small town called Amarillo, TX to Jewel O.
Love and Lewis B. Jones. In 1952, Valrie’s mother relocated to Denver, Colorado where
she met and married John O. Gaiter who stepped into the role of Valrie’s father and
raised her. Growing up, Valrie attended multiple schools. She attended Manual High
School where she was known as a “Thunderbolt” where she graduated with her Class of
1967. Valrie also attended some classes at Community College of Denver. Valrie was
the second oldest of five children and amongst all five, Valrie was the only girl. Growing
up with four brothers helped mold her into the nurturing, strong, resilient and respected
woman she was.
While attending Manual High School, Valrie found love and met and married her “high
school sweetheart” Ernest Buckman. This union produced her first-born child M. Larae
Buckman. Valrie’s husband passed away in 1972. Valrie then met Thomas W. Mills, Sr.
and this relationship produced her second child Thomas W. Mills, Jr. Later down the
road, Valrie became employed at Gates Rubber Company where she met her second
love, Ernest Lewis Friend, whom she was courted by and eventually married. This union
produced Tyrone L. Friend, Lonnell D. Friend and LaTrisha D. Friend, which made
Valrie a mother of five. In 2014, Valrie’s husband, Lewis, passed away.
In Valrie’s professional journey she wore many titles. Valrie obtained a CNA Certificate
where she went on to become a caregiver to elderly and hospice patients, as well as
many family members. She practiced and developed her seamstress skills while
working at a sewing factory. She displayed her culinary skills as a cook and dietary aide
at numerous hospitals and childcare centers. She was also a childcare provider for
multiple centers and families. Finally, she assisted her father, John Gaiter, with running
the family’s janitorial business and eventually took over this business with her daughter
LaTrisha.
Valrie was very outgoing and energetic and had a smile that would “light up the room!”
She had a soothing voice that was able to comfort you, yet it was stern enough to
redirect and get you together if needed. She was a kind, loving and generous woman
who would give you the shirt off her back, “literally!” She enjoyed being around family
and friends playing cards and board games. She enjoyed sewing and knitting so much
that she made her own wedding dresses and personal quilts for all of her children,
grandchildren and great grandchildren. Valrie also had a “green thumb”. She enjoyed
gardening and nurturing plants. When the chance would present itself, she enjoyed
occasional trips to the casino and would always come out “a winner!” Valrie was a
classy woman who enjoyed listening to her “Rythm and Blues” and regardless of what
she was going through, she never looked like it, because she enjoyed fashion and
always took pride in her appearance. Valrie enjoyed traveling by any means necessary,
whether it was by bus, car, plane, train, boat, or ship, “she did it all!” She loved going to
the beach, sitting while smashing her feet in the sand and watching the waves in the
ocean.
Valrie Friend left her footprints on this world and her daily presence will be greatly
missed by all who had the pleasure of encountering her. On Thursday, May 23, 2024, at
1:30pm, Valrie Friend’s journey on Earth ended and her new journey in Heaven began.
At the wise age of 75, our dear Valrie took her last breath at home surrounded by her

children and grandchildren. As she walked down the streets paved with gold and
through the pearly gates of Heaven, she is proceeded in death by her late husband
Earnest Lewis Friend, her parents Jewel O. Gaiter and John O. Gaiter, and her son
Lonnell D. Friend. On Earth she is survived by her remaining children: her daughter, M.
Larae Buckman (Tulsa, Ok); her son, Thomas W. Mills (Littlerock, AR); her son, Tyrone
L. Friend (Tulsa, OK); her daughter, Latrisha D. Friend (Lutz, FL); her bonus daughter,
Otisha Cuffie (Philadelphia, PA); her grandchildren: Deserae, Miquail, Lonnell, LaiLah,
Blayke, Grayce and Jeremiah; her great grandchildren: Demarian and KaiJeane (due to
make his arrival in August 2024); her siblings: Ronald Jones (Mississippi); Henry Jones
(Denver, CO); Howard Ross (Denver, CO); Michael Gaiter (Garland, TX); and a host of
nieces, nephews, extended family and friends will cherish her legacy.


1 Comment

  • Tamara Knighten Posted June 6, 2024 9:09 pm

    You have my deepest heartfelt sympathy during this difficult time. Praying so hard for your strength, peace and comfort. Love you guys so much, Tam


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