It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our beloved Jack Valenti.

In Loving Memory - Jack Valenti

Well if you’re reading this; I guess my time on this earth has expired. I have gone to join my ancestors in the hereafter; preceded by my father Frank in 1972, my mother Rose in 2000 and my sister Maxine in 2016. I always wanted to go in my sleep, but God decided it would be congestive heart failure.
My family was able to be with me when I passed. Brad (Elizabeth) and their three boys (James – wife Devon, Sean & Craig) live in New Hampshire. Petrina (Bill Riso) and their two children Portia (Cameron & Children Kash & Avery Kay) in Nevada and Anthony (Michel’le) in Idaho. Andrea lives in Seattle and Nicholas (Lupe) live in the bay area. One thing I know for sure is my wife of 55 years, LaDonna, was surely by my side as she has always been a loving, faithful wife and companion. Jack passed away peacefully at home on the morning of November first, 2022; All Saints Day.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I grew up in a small town (Natrona Heights) up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. I went to the same parochial school (St. Joseph) in Natrona for 12 years, and graduated in 1956. I then went on to Pharmacy School at Duquesne University, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy, graduating in 1960.
Working as a Registered Pharmacist in the Pittsburgh area for about a year, I then took the California State Pharmacy exam, passed, and came to California to make my fortune…. I had some very good employers the first few years working here in the Monterey Bay Area. Some may be familiar; David Silver at Midway Drug now gone; John Kinn at Fairway Pharmacy also now gone.
Gaining experience in my field, I formed a partnership with Pharmacist Jerry Abbanat, and we bought Park Pharmacy in Paso Robles in 1966. Since I was single at the time and he was married with two children and a home here, I moved to Paso Robles to manage and run that operation.
In June of 1967 I married LaDonna M. Anderson in Paso Robles who I had met here in Monterey. The year before -- also in October -- Jerry and I bought Ordway Pharmacy in Monterey. Eventually selling the Paso Robles Store, Donna and I moved back to Monterey to assist Jerry in the running of Ordway. Let me say this: Jerry has always been the greatest partner anyone could have had for all these years. More like a brother that I never had. I may not have made a fortune in California but he was very instrumental in making all of our ventures profitable and I have never missed a meal.
We expanded our business by buying several pharmacies in the Santa Cruz area and one at Lake Tahoe, and took on a new partner (Vince J. Cardinale – like another brother I never had) to manage and run that long-distance store. During the “Urban Renewal” of downtown Monterey, we made a proposal to the City to build the Paseo de Alvarado Building, hoping to move the Ordway Pharmacy into larger quarters. The building should still be standing but our plans for the Pharmacy never materialized. Instead we became landlords. Later we bought the old American Savings & Loan building at the entrance of Alvarado St. and moved Ordway Pharmacy to that location.
It’s possible that you may have seen me driving a WW II Jeep in many of the local parades, with my trusted friend and “gunner” John Dick or seen me tooling around town in my 1964 Yellow Porsche that I had bought new in October 1963. Not any more as I’m done and God has other plans for me at this time.
I have had a good life and no complaints. There were not many things on my bucket list that did not get done. Scuba divining in the Monterey Bay in my younger life, got a pilot’s license later in life. A member of the Old Capital Lions Club for over 50 years, life member of the NRA and the Military Vehicle Collectors of California. Enjoying many hobbies during my retirement. Wishing all of my relatives, friends and acquaintances much love, a fond farewell and only the best wishes. May we meet sometime in the not too near (for you) future.
Funeral Mass at San Carlos Cathedral (TBA)

Mission Statement

To learn as much as possible about the unit, the men in it and the equipment and tactics they used. Then to share that information with all whom wish to learn. To that end this group has built a replica of a classic WWII LRDG truck (1942 Canadian Chevy, right hand drive, India format) and outfitted it with "historically correct" military equipment, gear, provisions, and uniforms. The vehicle was built by Rick Butler in Yreka California from several vintage trucks and parts from around the world. Converting a left hand drive vehicle to right hand drive was one of many challenges.
lrdg truck and plane

The LRDG Preservation Society is the inspiration of Jack Valenti who is the chief historian, coordinator of equipment and artifact procurement and show organizer. The truck is displayed several times a year throughout the California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington areas and staffed by "LRDG clad" volunteers. This is a non-profit organization that survives through its volunteers whom donate equipment, historical information, time and money. Our society includes LRDG enthusiasts from countries like England, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal, South Africa and more. The only requirement for membership is an interest in history, get on the mailing list!

For more information contact Jack at his email address: lrdg@prodigy.net

lrdg cap badge

Send questions, comments, suggestions and information to Jack Valenti at the LRDG Preservation Society email address:

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A Brief History of the LRDG

The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the Second World War. The group was founded in Egypt in June 1940 and was initially called long Range Patrol (LRP). Interestingly, the majority of the men were from New Zealand.

The Long Range Desert Group was the first of the many units of Special Forces raised by the British during the Second World War, and like so many of the later groups came into existence because of the unusual nature of the war in North Africa. On this front the majority of the fighting took place in the narrow coastal strip, with a wide open southern front created by the vast North African deserts. The Long Range Desert Group was formed around a core of men with a great deal of experience of travelling in the desert, and its role was to use the desert to get past the front lines and into the enemies rear areas, where they carried out a mix of reconnaissance and raids.

lrdg truck 1942 india variant

1942 LRDG Canadian Chevy truck, India variant