(Taken from the obituary published in the Iowa City Press-Citizen)
A native of Iowa City, Iowa, Valerie Lagorio was a scholar in medieval mysticism who had lived in San Francisco, Hawaii, and Europe before moving to Santa Cruz four years ago to be closer to her sister.
Before becoming an academic, she enjoyed an eclectic career which included singing in the San Francisco Opera Co., working as a disc jockey, studying and dancing ancient hula in Honolulu and working as a civilian actress technician entertaining U.S. troops in 1946 in Germany. She earned a bachelor's degree from Lone Mountain College in San Francisco, and a master's and doctorate from Stanford University.
A charismatic presence in the University of Iowa's English department, she taught medieval literature there for 20 years. A scholar in the fields of medieval studies, Arthurian literature and mysticism, she was the author of five books and numerous articles and book reviews. In 1974, she founded the "14th Century English Mystics Newsletter," which is now published as the "Mystics Quarterly." Students helped establish a scholarship in her name to help graduate students complete their dissertation in medieval studies.
She retired as a professor emeritus in 1992. After her death, the flag atop the Old Capitol at University of Iowa was lowered to half-staff in her memory. At Dominican Oaks, she loved to entertain fellow residents with her ukulele. She emceed fashion shows, and enjoyed the Book Club. She helped to organize books on tape for residents with vision difficulties. She participated in religious services at Dominican Oaks and frequently served at lecture for the Saturday Mass. She was known as "Auntie Val" to her family, friends and the numerous students whom she mentored. She never married and described herself as an "unclaimed treasure."
She is survived by sister Antoinette Robison of Santa Cruz; brother Anthony Lagorio of Los Altos; and four nieces and four nephews.
Contributions are preferred to the Valerie Lagorio Student Aid Fund in care of University of Iowa Foundation, Box 4550, Iowa City, Iowa 52244-4550.