Valeria Yvonne Taylor: A Beacon of Strength, Faith, and Unconditional Love
March 28, 1946 – August 30, 2023
Valeria Yvonne Taylor was born on March 28, 1946, in Gary, Indiana, to David Smith and Mamie Robinson. As the fourth child among eight siblings—Billy Wright, June Wright, Lawrence Smith, Sharon McGhee, Sharrod McGhee, Veronica Williamson, and Mamie Robinson—Valeria was a shining star from her early years. Her zest for life was evident; she was known for her soulful singing, her sprinter's speed on the track, and her impassioned, quick-tempered spirit—tempered always by an enormous heart.
An academic and athletic force, Valeria attended Tolleston High School, where she became a track sensation. Her records in sprinting remained unbroken until the school's demolition in 1992. While still in school, she earned an invitation to compete in the 1964 Olympics. After graduating in 1964, Valeria embarked on a promising career in the entertainment industry. Her dulcet tones graced the stages with her group, the Opals, and as a background singer for the Mighty Dells.
In 1967, life presented her with a new chapter: love and marriage to John Taylor. Putting her burgeoning career on hold, she embraced her role as a wife and, shortly after, as a doting mother to John Taylor Jr., born in 1968 in Chicago. Although her marriage to John ended in 1971, her capacity for love found expression again when she rekindled romance with her high school crush, Frances Wilson. The couple welcomed a son, Deon Taylor, in 1974.
Valeria was not just a mother; she was the epitome of maternal love and sacrifice. For her sons, there was nothing she wouldn't do. She resumed her career to ensure a brighter future for her family, not just in the entertainment world but also as a court recorder, a Certified Nursing Assistant, and a state employee for over 20 years. Always eager to learn and grow, she pursued education at Purdue in Indiana and Chabot College in Northern California. Her faith as a devout Christian was the bedrock upon which her life was built, and she passed this spiritual legacy onto her children.
In addition to her earlier singing with the Chicago Mass Choir from 1976-1978, Valeria also lent her voice to the Sacramento Mass Choir. Her dedication to her community was equally noteworthy; she volunteered and worked for voter registration services for 14 years.
Valeria's talents continued to shine when she starred in Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes to Jail," which became Perry's largest box-office hit, grossing 90 million dollars. She also had the privilege of starring in her son's first film, "7eventy Five,” alongside award-winning actor Rutger Hauer.
Valeria was a loving mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, whose resilience and faith touched countless lives. She leaves behind her siblings Lawrence Smith (Tootsie Smith), Sharon McGhee, Mamie Robinson; her devoted sons John M. Taylor Jr (Traci Taylor) and Deon Taylor (Roxanne Taylor); her cherished grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as the numerous adopted sons and daughters whom she loved as her own.
She is preceded in death by siblings Billy Wright, June Wright, Sharrod McGhee, and Veronica Williamson.
A woman of indomitable spirit, Valeria's legacy of love, faith, and unyielding determination endures in the lives of all who knew her. She will be sorely missed but never forgotten.