Sorry for the tardy reply. Your email somehow made it into my spam folder. I believe we met a few times, or at least your name is familiar to me. Should you ever get back to the Bay Area - or to Provo where I also have a house - I will give you the whole soap opera of Val's life. For the most part, it was not a very happy one. Over the last 40 years, Val was about my closest friend, in spite of his often erratic behavior and heavy drinking - we had been roommates for four years at BYU and only lost touch for one or two years in the early 70's when I was living in Los Angeles and New York.
Val was diagnosed with throat cancer in about June 2009 while he was working as a driver for Prime Trucking, kind of the low-end of the transcontinental trucking business. He was driving from California to Pittsburgh most of the time. I had introduced him to a truck-driving school in Chico run by a church acquaintance of mine and it actually worked pretty well for Val even though he never enjoyed it.Actually, he hated the trucking business, but it gave him a place to sleep and a modest income, something he hadn't had for many years. The detrimental side effect of being on the truck was that Val doubled down and added chew to his heavy smoking habit, but it did get him to stop drinking. The throat cancer was almost certainly the result of his tobacco use, and they caught the cancer fairly late stage. He went through radiation and a round of chemo and seemed to be cancer-free about Spring 2010, but had lost all his teeth because of the radiation and his weight was down to about 140. He was able to get back on the truck (Prime had allowed him a medical leave of absence) but the cancer recurred in Nov-Dec 2010 and he had to retire... without benefits of course.
Val's relationship with his dad was always pretty bad, and he had burned his bridges with his brother Marc, who lives down in Salinas. But Larry actually let Val stay with him in his Martinez condo off and on during the two rounds of cancer treatment. Val and I went to baseball games fairly often and the tension between father and son was really high. When I picked Val up, Larry would say stuff like "If you get lost after the game you may as well take him to your house - I won't miss him." Lots of swearing at each other every time I was there. The last game we went to was an A's game the first week of the 2011 season and I almost had to carry Val down to the seats - he was weighing about 115 by this time and should have been in a wheel chair. His dad had booted him out and Val was living in a hospice house in Martinez. The last time I saw him was about a week before he died and I guarantee no one he knew would have recognized him - a literal scarecrow.
Val had decided to forego any further treatments in January 2011; the doctors said the only possibility for even a partial recovery would be removal of his jawbone and tongue. He passed on further surgery. From then on it was just painkillers and waiting. Amazingly, he never lost his lucidity, even a week before he died, in spite of the heavy medication. He did doze off periodically during my last couple of visits. Sadly, the caregivers at the hospice house said Val's Dad had never been to see him - in fact he had no visitors. My last visit was on May 11th or 12th and was informed that he had died a few days before. His Dad had him cremated with no service, and hadn't bothered to inform me of Val's death, which was typical of Larry.
I apologize for the somewhat sordid detail and the stream of consciousness reflections, but you did ask. Val was a lovable guy - even my kids loved him and enjoyed having him around, although my wife stayed on his case constantly. His life was so many "what-ifs" that it boggles the mind. Probably the biggest of all was what if Carol hadn't been killed? She was unquestionably the love of his life and had him somewhat squared away before and during their brief marriage. He was pretty well snake bitten in his love life after Carol - the failed marriage to Renee etc. He had two long-lasting and decent relationships in the late 70's and into the early 80's (never married but they were together for years) but both of them died as well.