Virginia Valenta, in Memorium
Virginia Valenta, 71, who died of cancer in 2016 grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma and received an M.A. in Romance Languages from the University of Missouri, Columbia. She was married to Dr. Jiri Valenta from 1977 to 1991 and was his friend and his present wife, Leni’s, friend, until her death.
During her marriage to Dr. Valenta, she wrote several articles on Soviet and Cuban policies in Latin America and was co-author with him and Howard Wiarda, of Soviet Strategy in the Caribbean Basin, 1987, and the article “Leninism in Grenada” in Problems of Communism, July-August, 1983. She also lectured in China at the Latin Armerican Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking, People Republic of China. Fluent in Spanish, she conducted extensive research with Jiri in several Latin American nations on the Caribbean Basin. She traveled internationally with Jiri and assisted him with research on numerous trips to the former Soviet Union, Africa, South America and Europe.
She is remembered with deep love and affection by her long time romantic partner, British born CEO of Towers Corporation, Richard Gautier.
Area Woman Recalls Bigger than Life Leader
ALTHEA PETERSON World Staff Writer, April 26, 2007
A Sapulpa resident says Yeltsin was a 'statesman' with a 'soft heart.'
When former Russian President Boris Yeltsin died Monday, it hit close to home for one Sapulpa resident.Virginia Lyda, an author and actress formerly of Miami, Fla., had close ties to Yeltsin for years. While living in Miami, she and her then-husband, professor and Sovietologist Jiri Valenta, helped bring Yeltsin to the United States in 1989. "(Yeltsin) was bigger than life," she said in an interview Wednesday. "He was ahead of his time. He was more committed to mankind than himself." Lyda said she remembers Yeltsin not only as the first Russian president but as a "statesman" with a "soft heart." She remembers one particular time in 1990 when she and her former husband were visiting Russia. "We were leaving his house. He was trying to shower me with gifts," Lyda said. "He asked my husband, 'Can I kiss your wife?' Before Valenta could answer, he (Yeltsin) kissed me." She said it was his open and friendly personality, combined with his determination, that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. "Bureaucracies don't change easily," she said. "They wanted the status quo. It was amazing, almost a miracle of history, that he could fight a system and turn it around. "He upset the world order in a great way. He will be remembered as a visionary, a revolutionary. He destroyed a previously accepted dogma." Lyda said a lot can be learned from Yeltsin's life. She said it is unfortunate that some people perceived him as "dumb" and "drunk," which she said was not her perception at all. "His purpose was to dismantle the Soviet empire," she said. "He did it, and it was peaceful. It wasn't done with tanks."