Valerie Ashton Hovenden, age 65, of Gallatin, TN, passed away peacefully in her home on April 10th, 2023. Born Valerie Norma Ashton, on February 19th, 1958, to parents William and Winifred Ashton in Bolton, Lancashire, United Kingdom. Valerie found her love of music and the theater at a very young age. She came home from school one day and announced that she was now a member of the orchestra and that in which she played the double bass. Before she was offered an opportunity to join “The Green Room,” a theater in Manchester, she was going to attend Loughborough College to study drama, as there were no guarantees of her finding a job, she jumped at the opportunity and never looked back. It was there where she found her love of theater lighting. In her career she went on to work for the Liverpool Playhouse, and the Tricycle Theater and Lyric Theater in London. After her work with the London Contemporary Dance Theater, she became one of the youngest female lighting and design technicians in the West End of London Theaterland. With her experience, she began to work with bigger acts like Meatloaf, and Dr. Hook. It was her work with the artist Dr. Hook where she met her first husband Rodney Groth. From there, her adventure to the United States began.
After moving to the states, she continued to tour with Kenny G before leaving lighting design after the loss of her first husband. She would later go on to meet William “Bill” Hovenden, who was the headmaster at Sumner Academy where her son, Kieran, was enrolled. It was at a school cookout when Bill approached her while she was sitting alone, from there Valerie and Bill fell in love and would go on to spend the next 24 years together happily married. After meeting Bill, she went on to receive her master’s degree in teaching from Western Kentucky University. She became a teacher at the Sumner Academy for many years before her retirement in 2022. It was said that she was one of the favorite teachers at the school and was loved by many students. Valerie and Bill were very active in their community together. They participated in the rotary club and were the founders of H2 education.
Valerie is preceded in death by her father, William Ashton, and her first husband Rodney Groth. She is survived by her mother, Winifred Ashton, husband, William “Bill” Hovenden, son, Kieran (Ashley) Groth, and stepson, Johnathan Hovenden. She is also survived by her sister, Lynn (Martin) Baird, grandsons, Braden Shuck and Rodney Groth, as well as several nieces and nephews. Although Valerie is gone, she is not forgotten.
A memorial visitation and service will be held at Alexander Funeral Home and Cremation Center on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023. Visitation will start at 2pm and will continue until 3pm when our service will start. A meal and reception are to follow immediately after the funeral service at Sumner Academy. 464 Nichols Ln., Gallatin, TN 37066
Alexander Funeral Home and Cremation Center are to oversee all funeral arrangements. 584 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN 37066 (615) 502 0011