The wealthy Valerie Conway crashed into Oakdale holding a grudge against her former sister-in-law, Kim Dixon. Years earlier, Kim had been married to Valerie's late brother, Jason Reynolds, and they both paid her boyfriend, Cliff, to leave town. Believing that they'd interfered in her life, she wanted nothing to do with them and left. Now, several years later, Valerie was forced to confront Kim again, when while piloting her plane, she was forced to crash land in Oakdale in Kim's own back yard! While recuperating at Memorial, Valerie found herself being treated by Dr. Dan Stewart, who she learned Kim was in love with. However, Kim was married to Dr. John Dixon, a situation she was having difficulty getting out of. Resenting Kim's relationship with Dan, since she felt Kim robbed her of her one great relationship, Valerie started dating Dan herself, while Kim was trying to get her to date her good friend Bob Hughes. Though Valerie initially started to date Dan to hurt Kim, she soon found herself really caring for him, a situation that worried her good friend Kevin Thompson, since he knew that Dan and Kim were in love. Though Dan seriously began courting Valerie when Kim neglected to tell him how she felt about him, Kevin learned that there was a reason--Dan's ex-wife, Susan, pocketed the answering machine tape that contained Kim's admission of love--so Dan had no clue. Kevin warned Susan to tell Kim the truth or he would. So, with her back against the wall, Susan told Kim the truth and Valerie lost Dan to Kim.
Later, Kim's best friend, Lisa Colman, told Valerie that her hatred of Kim was unwarranted--there was a reason why Valerie's boyfriend was paid to leave. The reason--he tried to rape Kim! Not wanting to hurt Valerie, both Kim and Jason refused to press charges in exchange for Cliff leaving town. Shocked, Valerie refused to believe it and added Lisa to her list of enemies. To get back at Lisa, Valerie decided to steal away her estranged husband, Grant Colman. Legally separated from Lisa, Grant had become interested in Valerie, and Valerie didn't hesitate to drop hints to the unsuspecting Lisa that if she weren't careful, someone just might steal Grant away, and that someone might be Valerie. Lisa found this very amusing, but when Bob rejected her, she realized she had to work fast to win Grant back or she'd lose them both. Unfortunately for Lisa, Grant had decided he wanted a divorce. Lisa was crushed! She had to find a way to win him back! She begged for a second chance and got it, at which point she decided to make friends with Valerie and play matchmaker with her and Bob. Lisa confided in her mother that Grant seemed distracted and Lisa was determined to find out why. It didn't take Lisa long to figure out the distraction was Valerie. Grant was too moral to leave Lisa, and Valerie didn't want to cause him any more pain, so she turned to the intense, volatile Dr. Alex Keith for comfort. They had a lot in common because Alex was also in love with someone who was married -- Kim.
It was around this time that Valerie's ex-husband, Nick Conway, arrived in Oakdale, low on funds and demanding a piece of her farm. Valerie refused though and told him consult her lawyer. Having lost Grant, who she had begun to care for, Valerie turned to Nick for comfort, which he was all too willing to provide. Soon his motive became clear--he intended to kill Valerie for her money! Playing on Valerie's loneliness, Nick got her to believe that he was a changed man. Soon, she accepted his marriage proposal and signed over 1/2 the farm to him. It was then that Nick decided to make his move--he was going to kill Valerie at the farm by dropping a bale of hay on her from the roof! Fortunately for Valerie, Nick's girlfriend, Tina, had a conscience. Having gone along with the plan, she couldn't condone murder and told Lisa what Nick was planning. Not wanting Valerie killed, Lisa rushed to the farm to warn her but Valerie refused to believe it. Luckily for Valerie, Tina arrived at the farm just as Nick was plotting her demise, and yelled out a warning, Tina distracted Nick who fell from the rooftop to his death. Though Nick's will stated that everything he had should be given to Tina, she wanted no part of it and gave everything to Valerie.
Rattled, Valerie decided she needed a change and, at Bob's suggestion, she became a nurse's aide at Memorial. Though by now, she had repaired her relationship with Kim, she resolved that she'd never allow herself to get close to another human being since she'd been hurt too many times. However, that was before Valerie became touched by the plight of a mute child named Kate. Kate had been injured in an accident but refused physical therapy because she knew that once she got out of the hospital, she'd be sent back to foster care. When Kate's doctor, Valerie's friend Dr. Alex Keith, told her that Kate would be placed in an institution if they couldn't find a home for her, Valerie's heart went out to the girl and she offered to be Kate's foster mother. By taking care of Kate, Valerie learned to start trusting people again and she soon let Alex into her heart. She was also determined to help the mute Kate speak again. When Kate was injured in a riding accident at Valerie's farm, a frightened Valerie blamed herself and started to weep. It was then that Kate finally came out of her shell by saying "Don't be sad, Valerie." After this miracle, Valerie decided to adopt Kate. Very soon after, Alex was offered a job at Ann Arbor and asked Valerie to go away with him--as his wife. Valerie said yes and, before leaving Oakdale, the two married in a beautiful ceremony at her farm.