Local Business Leader Makes Generous Gift to Valley Children’s Hospital in Support of Families

Photo of Mr. Claude Laval and Mrs. Betty Lou Laval

(Madera, California) – Mr. Claude C. Laval III has generously donated $1 million to Valley Children’s to help patients and families cope with the burden of non-medical financial needs associated with hospitalization. This includes expenses like rent for families who take extended absences from employment to manage their child’s care, or car repairs to travel to and from the hospital. To honor Mr. Laval and his late wife, Betty Lou, Valley Children’s has renamed its fund to support patients and families facing hardships as the “Claude and Betty Lou Laval Angel Fund.”   

"Valley Children's Hospital is an incredible asset to our region, which we have long supported,” says Mr. Laval. “Because the hospital serves children from different circumstances, over such a wide area, oftentimes, both the patient and their parents have unmet and unexpected needs. Previously, there have been only limited funds to support these emergencies, and we hope these funds begin to change that. Our gift has been structured in such a way that it will match funds donated by others, hopefully allowing the Angel Fund to grow and make a significant impact on children's health and well-being."

“Mr. Laval and his family have helped chart Valley Children's course for five decades through their leadership and generous philanthropy," says Valley Children’s Healthcare President & CEO Todd Suntrapak. "Betty Lou served on the Board of Trustees during the 1970s and 1980s, and their daughter, Mendy Laval Alkotob, has served as a Trustee since 2000. Betty Lou was also a longtime member of the La Feliz Guild, which raises awareness and funds for Valley Children’s. Her daughter later joined, as well. Claude and Betty Lou have made investments in endocrinology, capital projects, healing arts and now patients and their families. The Laval family has been integral to shaping children's healthcare in the Valley."

Mr. Laval was born and raised in Fresno and graduated from Fresno High School (1953) and Stanford University (1957). He returned to Fresno and married Betty Lou Scarbrough, whom he met in kindergarten. They were married for 56 years before Betty Lou's passing in 2014. Mr. Laval has two grown daughters and three grandchildren.

As a "serial entrepreneur," his career consisted of such diverse fields as teaching machines, borehole inspection devices, public works and pipelining, educational audiovisual hardware and software, water treatment and LAKOS liquid filtration equipment. In 2013, he sold LAKOS to a New York Stock Exchange company. In 2018, Mr. Laval and his daughter established a 13,000-foot co-working space called “The Launchpad,” which primarily houses 22 startups, providing small offices and workstations, as well as mentoring and business assistance. Through an affiliate, Laval Partners LLC, he continues to invest in start-up businesses, primarily in the Central Valley.

Mr. Laval has devoted significant time to helping Fresno State, given his concern for an adequately trained workforce in the Central Valley. He has served on the University's Board of Governors for 23 years, chaired the International Center for Water Technology, served on the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Board and chaired the Central Valley Business Incubator. Both the Water and Energy Technology Lab and the Entrepreneurial Mentorship Program are named for Claude and Betty Lou Laval.

Besides his involvement with Fresno State, Mr. Laval has served as a director of several public companies, including International Forest Products (now Interfor Corporation) from 1994-2007, and Waterman Industries (2014-2018). He was the President of the International Irrigation Association in 1984 and a founder of the Fresno Business Council.

In 1984, he was recognized as the U.S. Department of Commerce Export Executive of the Year. He has received many other distinctions, including the Leon S. Peters Award (1988), the Excellence in Business Award (1997), the Gold Star Alumnus Award from Fresno Unified School District (2002), the Fresno State Service Award (2004) and the San Joaquin Valley Outstanding Philanthropist Award (2017).

Since 2012, Valley Children’s patient help fund has assisted more than 1,100 families facing financial hardships.

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