He was born on February 23, 1901 at Glen Cove, New York to a Quaker family. His father was Charles Post Valentine and his mother was Annie (nee Laurie).
The Valentine family originated in Eccles, Lancashire and emigrated to the USA during the 17th century, just after the Pilgrim Fathers. Alan’s Great (x7) Grandfather, Richard Valentine, emigrated in about 1644 and owned a 600 acre farm on Long Island.
Alan was educated at Friend’s Academy, Locust Valley, New York and at Swarthmore College and then a M.A. degree at Balliol College, Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.
He was an Oxford rugby blue three times from 1923-25. He was the first American to become an Oxford rugby blue and the only Oxford man to gain an Olympic gold medal in rugby.
He was the last player to be chosen to play for the USA at the 1924 Olympics. He played twice for the USA against Romania (won 37-0) and in the final against France.
At the start of the final he tackled the French Adolphe Jauréguy so hard he had to be stretchered off.
“And that was the end of our French friend,” says Charlie Doe. Oblivious of the howling crowd, Jauréguy was carted off the field by medics—“like a sack of potatoes,” according to Doe.
The gold medal he won literally proved to be "tarnished." When Valentine tried to turn it over to the Roosevelt Government in answer to an appeal during the depression, it was rejected as being "only lead, washed with gold."
From 1925 to 1928 he worked at the Oxford University Press.
Returning to America , he taught English at Swarthmore, and then became Master of Pierson College at Yale University , a professor of history and chairman of admissions.
On the 15th March 1928 he married Lucia Garrison Norton in New York . They went on to have three children. Her father was Charles Dyer Norton, who served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Taft. His wife’s family can also trace their origins back to 17th century England.
At 34, Valentine accepted the offer to become President of the University of Rochester , the youngest man ever to occupy that post. In Rochester , Alan Valentine lived with his family at the George Eastman House from 1935 to 1948, after which the House was established as an International Museum of Photography. Valentine resigned as university president in November 1949.
He had previously taken a year's leave of absence to head up the Marshall Plan in The Netherlands. In October 1950, President Harry S. Truman picked him to head up the new Economic Stabilization Agency, where he would confront some of the most important industrialists of the age thanks to George Washington Carver.
Later, Valentine wrote his memoirs "Trial Balance" about the England he had known as a Rhodes Scholar three decades earlier. He wrote scholarly biographies of Lords Germain, North, and Stirling, and also penned a number of popular paperbacks under a pseudonym.
He died on July 14, 1980 at the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockland, Maine. He was 79 years old and lived in North Haven, New Jersey.