Happy Birthday, Valerie Antoine!

My wife, Susan, and I were recently able to have dinner with Valerie and her husband, Al, near their home in Northridge, CA, to celebrate her birthday. She turns 103 today. Valerie and Lorelle Young did a double-team to lead the U.S. Metric Association as Louis Sokol gradually stepped away from his roles as President and administrator of USMA and editor of the USMA Newsletter, beginning in 1986. Lorelle became President and Valerie became the Executive Director of the association and Lou continued as editor. Valerie became full editor of the newsletter in 1992. Lou contributed editorial content until he passed away in October of 1996. I have been familiar with all three of the leaders mentioned, as I have been a member of USMA since 1972 and served on the Board of Directors. Don Hillger became President editor of the newsletter -- and holder of the archived USMA records -- in 2010, so Valerie was executive director for over 18 years.

Valerie and Al shared some fascinating details about their early lives and their 66 years of marriage. Little known is that Valerie joined her father as the pianist at age 12 as they played for large ballroom dances held during the depression back in Illinois -- they were the primary wage-earners for their family during that time. Al survived harrowing experiences as a very young paratrooper landing on Normandy Beach and other targets during World War II.

The U.S. Metric Association has been a champion of the use the metric system (or the "Decimal System" of weights and measures, as Parker Willey suggests) for over a century. Valerie was already one year old when our association began.


John Dunlop
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