Victoria man, known for shocking protest signs, dies

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:30 a.m.
Updated Aug. 31, 2012 at 3:31 a.m.

Whenever Sam Valdivia stood at the corner of busy Victoria intersections, he stood with vigilance -- despite the honking, protests and vengeful grimaces.

People were not staring at Valdivia. Instead, their eyes were fixated on the shocking photos of aborted fetuses and statistics handwritten in jagged permanent marker.

Valdivia, 75, died Tuesday, after a battle with cancer, said good friend Barbara McCain.

Valdivia beat cancer previously.

There was a man behind the sign, she said -- a man whose heart burned passionate and deep.

"He's always been an inspiration to us," said McCain, who started The Gabriel Project in 2002 alongside Valdivia. The Gabriel Project is a crisis pregnancy support group that takes a pro-life stance. "We're passionate about (pro-life), just like Sam was."

But not everyone understood Valdivia's message.

In July 2004, Valdivia's brandishing of photos and messages like "Stop the Killing," had some motorists aghast and up in arms, according to Advocate archives. In the end, the visual protests were allowed to continue, a protest protected by the U.S. Constitution.

Valdivia continued spreading his pro-life message.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion," McCain said. "A lot of people feel the same way we do, but don't know what to do about it."

McCain, who even protested several times with Valdivia, said while most of the feedback was negative, Valdivia always stood firm, unwavering.

Even up to last month, Valdivia helped members of The Gabriel Project load up a baby crib for an expectant mother.

"You'd always see him out there," McCain said, her voice breaking. "It was a means to get to these women so they wouldn't have to result in this project."

McCain said the photos and facts were shocking, but that was the intent. Valdivia felt the same way.

"I agree -- it is ugly," Valdivia was quoted in the same July 2004 story.

Paul Tasin, one of Valdivia's good friends and fellow protestors, knew the reaction the signs solicited from the public.

Valdivia knew, and didn't care, Tasin said. The attention from law enforcement only brought more focus on the pro-life cause.

"The Bill of Rights is one of the foundations of our country, and we could not have them in Victoria if it was not for men like Sam Valdivia," Tasin wrote in an email.

Valdivia, who was a nurse in the U.S. Navy, also volunteered for other community agencies, including Christ's Kitchen and area nursing homes.

Despite the heads Valdivia turned, a father, husband, brother and longtime Victoria resident died, both Tasin and McCain said.

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son, a grandson and four brothers.

In a 2011 Advocate video, Valdivia expressed how he believed his mission would carry on past death.

"He (God) is going to say when we get up there, 'What did you do about abortion,' ... these are innocent people," he said.



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