Valerie Boyd's majestic biography of Zora Neale Hurston led to the rediscovery of a major American writer's work.
Boyd wrote the internationally acclaimed "Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neale Hurston," one of America's great literary biographies, while working as a daily journalist.
Even after the success of "Wrapped in Rainbows," Boyd continued working as The Atlana Journal-Constitution's arts editor, leading an outstanding staff of writers and critics with the same dedication and grace that she had brought to honoring Hurston's life.
I was enjoying one of Atlanta's sunny February mornings that prefigure spring when I heard that Valerie had died of cancer at the much too early age of 58.
As the AJC's arts editor, she was never too busy to give full attention to a copy editor raising an issue about a story. Her smile was like a ray of sunshine.
After her journalism career, she nurtured a generation of writers as an associate professor and writer in residence at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia. While battling cancer, she continued working with Alice Walker on the author's journals, which Random House will publish in April.
I remember Valerie's graciousness when I asked her to sign a copy of "Wrapped in Rainbows" as a gift to a North Atlanta High School English teacher who inspired my son's love of reading.
Valerie made a difference in small and large ways. She was one of God's angels.