Rio Vista ISD teachers, staff and students are mourning the loss of one of their own. Rio Vista High School librarian Ann Marie Kimm Valdez passed away Wednesday in her home in Keene after a battle with cancer at the age of 63.
Valdez worked for the high school for eight years. Before that, she worked at Chisholm Trail Academy in Keene as an athletic director, a physical education teacher and taught English. She was also an adjunct professor at Southwestern Adventist University.
RVHS Assistant Principal Jack Pruitt said Valdez thought about nothing but her students.
“She was the librarian, but that was just a title,” Pruitt said. “She held students accountable for their actions, but she was always there pushing the kids, always wanted them to be better. There is no way we will replace what we lost with her.”
RVHS Principal Tony Martin said Valdez was a pioneer for education and students.
“It didn’t matter what level the student was,” Martin said. “It could be the most struggling student in the school academically or the highest achieving student. If she could find a niche, she’d work to find a niche for that student.”
RVHS counselor Dana Stockton said Valdez took an interest in every child.
Valdez was the school’s sponsor for the National Honor Society and administered the school’s website and other social media sites, Stockton said.
She was instrumental in buying a green screen so students could conduct daily video announcements and broadcast them all over the district and to parents.
RVISD Superintendent Tim Wright said Valdez is going to be impossible to replace.
“She was so knowledgeable about the library and other resources,” Wright said. “She always found resources for both the teachers and the kids.
“She donated books and other things to the school for the kids using her own money. She loved Rio Vista with all her heart. We’re going to miss her.”
Her husband, José “Joe” Valdez worked as a Spanish teacher at RVHS for 15 years before retiring in January.
“She was all about doing whatever was necessary for students so they could be successful in their endeavors and obtaining a good, quality education,” Joe Valdez said.
On the last day of school, Ann Valdez wrote a letter to her fellow teachers and staff thanking them for their support.
“You all have been so wonderful, kind and thoughtful throughout these difficult times,” according to the letter. “I have worked in many Christian schools, but I have never worked with a more spiritual and Christian group of people in my life. ... I thank you for everything, and I love you more than I can express.”
Ann Valdez was born May 14, 1955, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Lyle and Mary Alice Kimm of Norway, Iowa. She graduated from Norway High School in 1973.
After graduation, she attended Northwest Missouri State University and completed a bachelor’s degree in education in 1977.
She later completed a Master’s of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction degree with an emphasis in reading in 2008 at Southwestern Adventist University.
Later, she completed her librarian certification from Texas Women’s University.
After a few years teaching, she married José Valdez. She, her husband and son, Caleb Valdez, lived in many different places and friends during their time spent in San Antonio, Somerset, Missouri, Canyon Lake and Jefferson before settling in Keene, according to her obituary. José and Ann Valdez celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary in November.
In her early college years, Ann Valdez competed in many women’s athletic programs when there were no college divisions and no college scholarships available for women’s sports.
She was inducted into the Northwest Missouri Hall of Fame for basketball, track and cross country.
She leaves behind her husband and son, Caleb.
Ann Valdez will be cremated and her ashes will rest at Keene Memorial Cemetery. A memorial and reception service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Saturday at La Fuente Church, a sister church to the Heights Church, in Cleburne, 1315 Grandview Highway.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, send donations for medical bills to José Valdez at 212 Shady Oak Road in Keene.