|Birth: ||Jan. 4, 1957|
San Diego County
|Death: ||Aug. 16, 2011|
San Diego County
Valerie Harp sang in Starlight Opera and Gov. Pete Wilson's inaugurations
Captivated audiences with her big heart and effervescence
By Linda McIntosh, Reporter - North County listings
Friday, September 2, 2011
Valerie Louise Harp made her stage debut singing "Spoonful of Sugar" as a sixth-grader at Spring Valley Elementary and continued performing for decades later, winning over audiences with what friends describe as her big heart and effervescence.
She sang on traveling campaigns with former Governor Pete Wilson, performing at his inaugurations as senator and California governor.
"She had a sparkling personality and was beloved to audiences," Wilson said.
Ms. Harp died after suffering a seizure Aug. 16 in San Diego, cause of death is pending. She was 54.
She shared the stage with prominent San Diegans, such as the late Toni Michetti and her collaborator Julie Golden, hotel owner Anne Evans and several former Chargers players, including Willie Buchanon, Rolf Benirschke and Jim Laslavic.
"She loved performing for the joy of it and delivered her song with great heart," Golden said.
Starlight Opera recognized Ms. Harp for Outstanding Female Performance in "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" in 1982 and Best Performance in a Leading Role for "Guys and Dolls" in 1984.
She sang with The Toppers at the Backstage Theatre and for Starlight Opera, raising money for charities such as Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego Opera Auxiliary and the Armed Services YMCA. She was a star ensemble member of JuleTone Productions, formerly Toni Michetti & Company, where she volunteered for musical theater workshops and appeared in fundraising productions during the 1980s and 1990s in San Diego.
Friends remember her humor at the workshops. "She had those big shiny eyes and innocent demeanor and she would come out with double entendres that would make the adults double over in laughter, but it went by the kids," said longtime friend Louise Lucas.
"Laughs came hard and frequently around Val, she was relentless at enjoying life and entertaining those around her," said Bryan Verhoye, accompanist for the San Diego Master Chorale who worked with her on productions.
Many of her friends from theater remember her solo "I Got Love," May 28, 1981 from "Purlie," in the first ShowBiz musical theater adult workshop. Ms. Harp sang the first ten lines of the opening number before the cast joined in. "You think I'm afraid? You ought to know I'm not. Why should I be scared? I'm safe and sound because … I got love. I got love …"
She was born Jan. 4, 1957 in Coronado to Lorna and Smitty Harp. She attended elementary school in Imperial Beach and junior high in Spring Valley, graduating from Monte Vista High School in Spring Valley in 1975. She attended Grossmont College in El Cajon, and along with her involvement in theater, worked in administrative jobs at California Casualty, the American Association of Franchisees and Independent Dealers, Sea World and Mission Valley YMCA. Most recently, she worked as a special education assistant in the San Diego Unified School District. "She loved the children and would listen to them and give them time," said her sister, Lynn Ritzma.
She is survived by two sisters Lynn Ritzma of San Carlos and Barbara Hutcherson of Texas and her brother Fred Harp of Crest.
A memorial service and reception will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday Sept. 3 at Gateway Church, 1280 N. Johnson, El Cajon.
Ms. Harp took in many homeless animals, and her family suggests memorial donations to Friends of Cats.
Smith Eric Harp (1923 - 1998)
Lorna Clara Duclos Harp Farley (1927 - 1982)
Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.
Created by: Terry Harney Harp
Record added: Aug 31, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 75739405
58 years. We Love You. We Miss You. Happy Birthday. 58 58 58 58.....Your brother remembered this morning before I did. I knew it was today. Just hadn't remembered yet. You have a beautiful grand nephew. Red hair like his daddy and his grandma. We think of...(Read more)|
Terry Harney Harp
Added: Jan. 4, 2015
Your birthday is tomorrow and I wanted to be sure that I wasn't late this time. I was 5 yrs. old when you were born... it doesn't seem right that you should be gone and I'm still here. Rest Peacefully in Paradise and may God bring comfort to your Loved On...(Read more)|
Kathie L. Webb Blair
Added: Jan. 3, 2015
3 years. It's hard to believe you have been gone from us for 3 years already. You became a grand aunt less then a month ago. A red haired boy like his dad and grandma. I know you would be beside yourself with excitement. I will be sure to kiss his cute li...(Read more)|
Terry Harney Harp
Added: Aug. 16, 2014
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