The irreplaceable Val Camilletti died on July 24. | File photo

The online comments about Val Camilletti were too good not to share:

Janet Haisman

Posted: July 24

This is utterly wonderful. Both Ken [Val Camilletti sold us the soundtrack of our lives, Ken Trainor, News, July 25] and Terri Hemmert have spoken from the heart — a place where Val will always be for so many. May she rest in peace and know how much she was loved.

Jeff Schroeder 

Posted: July 24

I had many fun chats with Val over the years. She knew my father from his days with RCA/A&M records and we had many common recollections of music industry people back in the day. Just a month ago, we were discussing a band from sixties and I was amazed at how much she remembered. She will definitely be missed.

As someone who lives in central Oak Park, I noted how the old building Val’s store was in on South Boulevard is still standing. All these years after she was forced to move out for a big redo, that never occurred. At least she was able to move to Harrison and stay in the community.

Kathryn Jonas

Posted: July 24

Thank you, Val, for your very special music store, for all your efforts in bringing music appreciation to so many people, and for adding so much character and joy to Oak Park’s small business community.

Bill Dwyer

Posted: July 24

What terribly sad news. Val was one of the most authentic, unique people I’ve ever known. Truly one of a kind. I’m not sure she always remembered my name, but every time I walked in her store, it was enough to see her smile and say, “Hey, you! How are you?” Rest in peace, lady.

Mike Bochner

Posted: July 24

The world will be a little less nice without Val. She was truly one of a kind. She will be missed.

Christopher J. Janis

Posted: July 24

As a young teen, nothing was more fun than having a few bucks in the pocket for some used records from Val’s. I would spend hours going though those bins looking for gold. Sometimes I knew what I was buying, many times not. If the cover looked interesting, I would grab it. I learned to love all types of music from that store, and Val was always there to point you in right direction. I went back there a few time over the last couple of years. Pored though the bins for old times. Don’t even own a turn table. Found a few and had them transfered to CD. Thanks, Val

Jeffrey Smith

Posted: July 24

I moved to Oak Park in 1975, and Val’s halla was my home away from home. Going there always meant a stop at the Elvis Shrine, a leisurely browse for treasures in those amazing bins, but more than that it meant being able to talk about any performer, any kind of music, or any obscure album I was trying to lay my hands on and knowing that Val knew it all and knew how to get the album. 

She was also, without making it a big deal, someone around whom a gay kid living on his own could feel comfortable and sense a kindred spirit. She was a friend, an inspiration, and as she grew older an exemplar of how to age superlatively and contribute till you take your dying breath. As the tributes come rolling in (and they will) all of us who knew her will be amazed again at the breadth of her influence in the music scene and the struggle for LGBT rights. Addio, Val, you made the world a better place.

Matt Baron

Posted: July 24

Such a fantastic tribute, Ken. This does Val justice, which is no small feat! So true that if you spoke to Val, it would be neither brief nor forgettable. I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Val on occasion, and that mostly came in recent years through her support of the Celebrating Seniors Coalition. She was our cover girl (with one of her cats) one year for the Celebrating Seniors Resource Guide. In addition to being one of our “60 Over 60” honorees — that was a slam dunk, of course — she played a key role in our programming to honor and celebrate older adults in the community. Val was emcee of our “Battle of the Bands” two years ago and was grand marshal of our hugely popular Pet Pals in the Park event in recent years. Val will be dearly missed. But her impact on our community — and the vibrant, caring, community-minded example she set all of her days — will echo for many, many years to come.

Chatka Ruggiero

Posted: July 24

Tony & I are so saddened. We knew Val when she was at Capitol Records and Tony was a DJ. I guess we all thought she’d be behind her counter chatting with everyone forever.

Ramona Lopez

Posted: July 24

I’ve been a regular at Val’s since I moved here 22 years ago. She helped my daughters grow up with vinyl as I did. I left some flowers at the door of her store tonight with a note “My sweet Val, Your life and work are a testament to not only the power of music, but to the power of kindness and community. You made the world much better for all of us and I am forever in your debt.”

Martin A. Berg

Posted: July 24

I couldn’t help but notice that her age at her passing was a traditional record turntable speed — and she seemed to be at that setting for a good part of her life. A really nice person and an asset to her community. Thanks for sharing your life with us here in Oak Park, Val, and rest in peace. You’ve earned it.

Bill McClung

Posted: July 25

The Village of Oak Park owes Val an honorary street naming. How about South Boulevard being Val’s halla Way. Keep rocking, Val.

Jai Skot

Posted: July 25

Thanks to Ken and Terri for their lovely and fitting tributes to both the legend and woman we loved and were lucky enough to have known, and been a part of our own lives! For all that I have read so far, which has evoked such comments from those who had not met her, that “Val sounds like a very special person,” “special” pales, does not even remotely come close to a fraction of one of the most eclectic, generous, multifaceted individuals anyone could ever imagine. 

Yes, Val and Val’s halla were one and the same, and her involvement with all creatures other than our own species was of a caliber that would have completely endeared her to St. Francis, but we have yet to hear mention of her also still managing time as a reader for Light House for the Blind, or choir at the Lyric. And yes, later there was golf, but before that there was Val the ballroom dancer, Val the equestrian at Silver Spurs Ranch, and even before it morphed into Halla and was just Val’s Records at 109 S. Ridgeland (where I first met Val in ’67) just around the corner from The Fourth Plane, hippie headquarters. It was Val’s admiration for Angela Davis that inspired what was to be her own trademark afro for the next half-century. Heaven’s musical department has now been greatly enhanced!

Val Leventhal

Posted: July 25

I’m the other Val, or one of them. I didn’t spend a lot of time at Val’s store, as I live some distance away and have been busy making my own music, but whenever I was there I loved the store, the atmosphere, the stock, and of course, Val herself. I have performed at a few of the store’s events, and always found a welcoming and actually listening audience. Val gathered folks who loved music, and so we became part of her tribe. So very sorry she’s left us, but I know she is being celebrated by all the folks whose music she encouraged her public to experience and enjoy. I picture her having tea or whatever with Ella or Janis in an afterlife where real music is valued. She kept something precious alive for all those years, and we won’t forget her.

Join the discussion on social media!