FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — The sister of conservative radio talk show host Phil Valentine wants her brother to be remembered as an “affectionate dad” and loving husband who made her proud with all of his successes.
The 61-year-old died Saturday afternoon following a lengthy battle with COVID-19 that left him hospitalized and on a ventilator for weeks.
“We were a team, and I cannot believe that you are gone,” Beth Valentine Dollar wrote on Facebook.
Valentine Dollar gave WKRN permission to share the letter and said she wrote it to her brother after learning of his death.
“I love you so very much,” she explained. “You get to see Mama before I do, so please catch her up. Tell Daddy we miss him everyday, too. Give them both a big hug for me.”
Valentine, an outspoken conservative talk show host known across Tennessee and the country, confirmed July 11 on his Facebook page that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
His family revealed on July 22 that he was “in very serious condition” at a Nashville-area hospital and was suffering from “Covid pneumonia,” along with other side effects of the virus. Days later, relatives said Valentine was placed on a ventilator.
During a live broadcast at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, several of Valentine’s coworkers and close friends announced the 61-year-old had died earlier in the afternoon.
Valentine had previously expressed his disagreement with mask mandates, stating that hospitals were never in danger of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients. He had also been critical of the virus vaccines, voicing his concerns over their safety.
Following his hospitalization, Valentine’s family said “he has never been an ‘anti-vaxer,’” but “regrets not being more vehemently ‘Pro-Vaccine’” and urged his listeners to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The letter written by Beth Valentine Dollar can be read below in its entirety:
Steve and Mark were born 17 months apart and always so close. Then, when I came along five years after you, it was you and me. We were a team, and I cannot believe that you are gone. You were my very first playmate. Even Mama wrote in my baby book that I could pronounce all of the boys’ names well – especially Pheeeel! She even told me that after school instead of going outside to play, you’d want to play with your toddler sister. She’d make you go outside and play with your friends! Some of my earliest and best memories are when you’d get me out of bed, when I was three or so, on Saturday mornings. You’d fix our bowls of cereal, and we’d sit on the floor close to the TV to watch cartoons. In all of my birthday home movies, you were always right by my side handing me presents, helping me open them, and making a big deal about them.
As I grew to school age and began having friends over to play or spend the night, you always got the games and fun going for us. I remember you dressing in your super hero costumes and leading the charge! One day we even cut a hole in a huge box to make it look like a TV. We had Daddy come up after work, and you read the news to him while I sat behind you and typed on a typewriter for sound effects. Just like Cronkite, and you even wore a coat and tie!
I also remember that I thought you had magic (I know-too many Bewitched episodes) when you’d open the freezer and command the interior light to go off, and it did. I was amazed for many years until you finally confessed that you were pressing a button with your knee! You also helped me win a magic show in second grade using vinegar and an egg, and you wrote this catchy line: When I make this raw egg fall, it will bounce like a rubber ball. Genius!
I also remember the wonderful boy band The Nashville Five, and I can’t hear I’ll be There by the Jackson Five without thinking of your excellent rendition of it. Remember that I got so mad when you wouldn’t let me be a GoGo dancer? I had the white patent boots to swing it, too. But I showed you by decorating your favorite tambourine with magic markers!
I fondly remember when you had friends over, and you were so patient when I wanted to tag along or just hang out. We played many games of pool as you schooled me on 60s and 70s music – you knew all the back stories on the songs and the singers, especially your Beatles phase. And when you brought home Frampton Comes Alive!, you thought it was right up there with sliced bread. We kept listening to that song when he made the guitar talk! Magical times, for sure.
Around this time you graduated from high school when I was in the 6th grade. When you left ECU and pursued radio, I was some kind of proud to hear you on the air or go to an event where you were the DJ. When you were at WRMT in Rocky Mount, Mama would have the intercom radio on, and she’d turn down the music and turn up your commercials. She was a proud mama!
Then, on the darkest day of our lives, you were the one who told me about Mama’s wreck and death. I remember falling into your chest crying and you held me. Hard to believe that was 40 years ago last week on August 14 when I was 16 and you were 21. We hung together with Steve, Mark, and Daddy and learned, much to our surprise, that we would laugh again and get back to living.
Four years later, in 1985, you packed all that you had and headed that Honda Prelude to Nashville, TN to conquer it, and you did! I have always been so proud that you went out there not knowing a soul to pursue your radio and song writing dreams. I brag on you to this day with that story often! We were all so proud of you, and I looked forward to driving out every summer to see you. You were making your own way and were so successful.
Then you met your beautiful, funny, and smart wife, Susan, and were married in 1990. I’d never seen you so happy, and you two were perfect for each other. She will always be my sister-in-law. Then came along your three fabulous boys, and your life was complete. I loved the caring, loving, and affectionate dad you became. As the boys grew, it was so sweet to see how you interacted with them with such love, laughter, and unconditional love. They were lucky to have you as a dad because it seemed that role came so naturally to you. When I think of the wonderful life that you made in Nashville and the wonderful family you have, it just plain makes me happy.
Not only were you a success in your personal life, you had a career to be proud of. Starting out as a DJ and moving to talk radio, you were always in your element. The countless awards you received and the respect from your colleagues makes this evident. But, wait, it doesn’t stop there! You became a well written author and the creator of dozens of lyrics and songs. I remember reading one of your books on the beach a few summers back, and I was about to explode with pride. I wanted to go up to everyone on the beach and say, “Look at this author! He’s my brother!”.
As we both became busy with our families and work, we sometimes went weeks without talking, but I always knew you were just a phone call away, and you were never far from my heart and thoughts.
Today is the second hardest day of my life because now I can’t pick up my phone to call or text. My heart is breaking for your precious Susan, Carr, Campbell, and Douglas as well as Steve, Mark, Barbara, and all of our family and friends. I’m so glad Steven, Harrison, Anna, and I got to spend time with you in June. I’ll miss your laughter, your advice, your encouragement, and your sense of humor. I could always count on you, and you couldn’t have been a better brother if you tried. This hurts so much, but our wonderful memories will help. I love you so very much. You get to see Mama before I do, so please catch her up. Tell Daddy we miss him everyday, too. Give them both a big hug for me, and when people ask me how many brothers I have, I will always say three.
I love you, Phil,