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Leno Valentino, 90, World War II pilot, owned Ridgefield Cleaners

Leno Valentino

Leno Rudolph Valentino of Surgoinsville, Tenn., a Ridgefield native who had been a bomber pilot in World War II, died Jan. 13 at Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.  He was 90 years old.

Mr. Valentino was born Jan. 5, 1923 in Ridgefield, a son of Rudolph and Elvira Allegrezza Valentino. He grew up here and graduated from Ridgefield High School in 1940.

He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps  during World War II, serving in the 13th Army Air Corps / 307th Bomb Group. He was stationed throughout the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, serving as a lead pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber.

He flew more than 35 combat missions  and was involved in the invasion of Balikpapan in Borneo and missions over the Philippines Islands during their liberation.

He retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 1964 with the rank of major.

In Ridgefield, Mr. Valentino owned Ridgefield Cleaners for more than 40 years, retiring in 1988. He was active in St. Mary’s  Church, was commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3052, and was an officer of the Italian American Mutual Aid Society

After his retirement, he and his wife Helen moved Charleston, R.I. In 1992, they relocated to Stuart, Fla.

In 2009, he moved to Tennessee to live with his son and daughter-in-law.

His wife of 67 years died in 2011.

Survivors include two sisters Emma Orlando and Barbara Bol of Santa Barbara, Calif.; his children, Richard and Kathy Valentino of Surgoinsville, Virginia Mae Brown of Midlothian, Va., William and Denise Valentino of Chester, Va., Judith and Keith Reardon of Brewster, Mass., Patricia and John Kiernan of Jensen Beach, Fla.; 14 grandchildren, Leslie Woods and husband Chris, Carolina Dodson and husband Todd, Matthew Brown, Ryan Brown, Chris Reed, Samantha Canale, Justin Reardon and wife Alena, Farrah Valentino, Taylor Valentino, Kristie Atchison and husband Terry, Kelly Huffman and husband Shane, Kim Todd and husband Aaron; and 18 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, Kingsport. Full military honors will follow at East Lawn Memorial Park.

Inurnment will be at a later date at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ridgefield.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

Arrangements are being handled by East Lawn Funeral Home; visit eastlawnkingsport.com to leave a condolence for the family.

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