“But coming from somebody like him, it meant a great deal to me just to be able to have that conversation,” said Hawkins, who at the time worked as a legislative aide to then-council member Muriel E. Bowser.
Hawkins was one of many who remembered Valentine’s generosity, intellect and mentorship as they mourned the D.C. lawyer who died Friday of covid-19. Valentine — a longtime lawyer in the D.C. Attorney General’s Office who later worked as a legal adviser to Mayor Bowser — was admitted to a hospital on Wednesday.
Valentine, 66, is the fourth person to die of the novel coronavirus in the District.
Those who worked with Valentine described a stellar attorney who knew the city and its laws. Valentine, who went on to Harvard Law School from a small historically black university in Alabama, dedicated a long career to public service, and mentored young lawyers.
D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine in a statement said Valentine “cared deeply” about the children of D.C. and served as a foster parent.
“George Valentine was the consummate gentleman,” Racine said. “Warm, friendly and smart, George was a terrific colleague.”
Valentine graduated from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Ala., before earning his degree from Harvard.
He led the attorney general’s civil litigation division before joining Bowser’s office, where he served as deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Bowser told reporters of Valentine’s death at a Friday briefing. She said she learned Thursday that Valentine was in the hospital and had tested positive for the virus.
“It’s devastating for everybody, of course,” Bowser said. “We’re very sorry.”
“George Valentine epitomized what it is to be a dedicated public servant,” Bowser said in a tweet. “. . . And he always shared his deep knowledge of law & his boundless love of DC.”
Alice Miller, executive director of the D.C. Board of Elections, gasped when she heard Bowser announce Valentine’s death at the news briefing.
While working for the board of elections, Miller recalled working with Valentine on voting matters that came before the D.C. Court of Appeals.
“I was just not prepared to hear that at all,” Miller said. “I can still see him running around, happy and bubbly, always there willing to help.”
Bowser’s general counsel, Betsy Cavendish, recalled how Valentine mentored one of the attorneys in the office.
“He was just a tenacious, super smart lawyer, who had grace and gentility about him and a diplomacy in doing his legal work,” she said.
Chip Richardson, who served as general counsel for former mayor Adrian Fenty, recalled regularly working with Valentine when Valentine was a deputy attorney general.
“He was one of their most trusted advisers,” Richardson said.
He recalled Valentine was a “trusted legal strategist who understood the nuts of bolts of what could and could not be done on the ground.”
Richardson said he didn’t believe the news of Valentine’s death at first: “He still had a future left, a long and bright future, just a very intelligent soul.”
Keith L. Alexander contributed to this report.