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Biography of Florence George
by her sister, Virginia Adair

MY SISTER FLORENCE

By Ginnie Adair

Florence George was born on April 28, 1915 at home, 3719 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia. The doctor who brought her into the world was Dr. Frederick Killian (not Armenian). He also delivered all 14 of her sisters and brothers, and was our family doctor until he died or retired.

Florence was never given a middle name. She had several nicknames, such as Flo, Floss, and Flossy. Her brother Ed called her Skinny Wee, because she was so tiny and petite. The girls at the office where she worked gave her the name Judy when they discovered she didn't have a middle name, and this stuck with her all 45 years she worked for the company.

She was named after a friend of our family, Florence Burkett, whose mother, "Ma" Martin was our family nurse.

Mother had measles when she was pregnant with Flo, which caused her front teeth not to develop normally. She had them capped later in life.

Flo was small and petite and never weighed more than

about a hundred pounds. For years she wore three-inch heels and later developed foot problems as a result.

A private person, she always had values and convictions and strong beliefs in God and the Bible. She never showed jealousy toward anyone and dearly loved and trusted her family.

Flo was a good student and at Philadelphia High School for Girls French and gymnastics were her favorite subjects. She won several blue ribbons in gymnastic contests, and was very proud of them.

She loved to read, especially romance stories, and speaking of romance, Flo was known to do a little flirting at times with her eyes. Her favorite authors were Grace Livingston Hill and Paul Hutchens. Little Women, Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm, and Ann of Green Gables were some of her favorite books in high school.

For many years when she was young, Flo visited the Philadelphia Home for the Blind at least once a week to read to Jessie Deck, a resident of the Home, and wrote letters to her friends and family as Jessie dictated to her. Other blind women would come into Jessie's room to hear Flo read. These women really looked forward to her visits.

Flo was a spelling whiz. When I did my homework and Florence was around, I used her as my dictionary for spelling. She liked to do crossword puzzles to pass the time.

Florence's greatest desire was to be a dietician. She was accepted at Drexel University (Drexel Institute of Technology then) and even had a big sister assigned to her, but the Depression hit our family hard. Father couldn't afford to send her to Drexel but borrowed money to send her to Pierce Business College for a three-year degree. She picked up shorthand and typing quickly and could type as fast as she could talk, and that was fast. She was able to help Father at his diamond cutting shop because she had extra time.

Flo was the designated one to do grocery shopping for the family and she planned all the meals. So Flo did use her interest in dietary matters that way.

After college she got a secretarial job at Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmer's Insurance Company, a couple of blocks from Father's office and, as mentioned, she worked there for 45 years. Her first paychecks were $12.00 a week. Florence, who became a notary public and had people coming to her to notarize documents, gave Father $9.00 for the family budget and, after her tithe, kept the rest for herself. This met her needs she said. Transportation to her job was only five cents a ride for the trolley. She brown-bagged it for lunch. When she retired from work she was given an honorary dinner in Harrisburg at the home office.

Flo loved to save Indian head pennies and had quite a collection of them. Other interests included her church, Northminster Presbyterian Church on Baring Street in Philadelphia. She was very active in church life and especially enjoyed the young people's group parties. She was a Sunday School teacher, Girl Scout leader, and secretary for several organizations inside and outside the church.

Flo and seven other girls started the Helping Hand Club, with "Mommy" Baker as leader. They wanted to be of help in some way to the world and gave money and gifts for missions, the poor, the sick, and ministered to bereaved families. They gave a Valentine breakfast annually to raise money for the cause of their group. Helping Hand grew to about 25 girls and met once a month. Many of the members have died, but the club still meets for lunch once in a while.

Helping Hand also gave a musical at the church to raise money. It was called "Twelve Old Maids," though by then most of the girls were married. Our church enjoyed having suppers, and Flo loved it when she was asked to serve. Her favorite supper was the annual sauerkraut supper.

Flo also was a nurse's aide at the Presbyterian Hospital. She and sister Martha went once a week to the hospital during World War 2 and afterward. This was volunteer work and they wore a special uniform.

In her later years Florence enjoyed most of all visiting her nieces and nephews and baby-sitting for them. First it was Ronnie and Manny's

children, Tom, David, and Betty-Ann. She was like a grandmother to them and loved every moment with them.

Then Dottie and Eddie's three children came along, Bette Lou, Ed, and Ken. Soon Tuddy and Howard's children, Lu Ann and Mark, came. Flo really liked it when she could stay overnight at their houses. When invited, she would take the train, carrying her little red suit case and in it lots of treats for the children. At the Landon's she enjoyed Tuddy's famous spaghetti dinners.

Then, in the 1960s she began to visit Wheaton twice a year and would stay ten days to two weeks to enjoy times with Mary Sue and Martha Lou. We all enjoyed her visits so much. She would bring a shopping bag filled with treats for all of us, including Allenberries, gum, gummy bears, stuffed animals, toys, toothpaste, dish rags, stockings, dish towels, etc.

Mary Sue and Martha Lou would spend lots of time with their aunt after school in her bed room. They would tell her about all their joys and sorrows and secrets, and about boyfriends. And Flo wouldn't tell anyone else if they didn't want her to. But they always came away from her room happy and with a handful of change.

Actually, Florence was a little unhappy when I got married and moved away, but she soon got over it, because she liked Jim and his mother so much. In fact, I think she liked the idea to leave Philadelphia for a little while and fly out to Wheaton for a change of pace. When she first flew out to Wheaton it was a big occasion. Four or five people, including Aunt Jane, Ma Walton, and Essie and Mart, came to the airport to see her off and say good-bye with gifts and candy,

Many years ago Betty-Ann and David came out separately several times to Wheaton with their aunt and she was as proud as the proverbial peacock.

Florence was a private person, but enjoyed talking and hearing about her nieces and nephews and others in relation to their accomplishments. She used to send me a long typewritten letter every week after I married and moved to Wheaton. She told about all the good things happening in the family and the accomplishments of the nieces and nephews, but never much about herself.

She enjoyed going to their school plays and musicals. I think I learned more news about the family than they knew, but it was always good news.

At home, Flo did not like house work, but she did have her evening for doing the dishes.

She liked many of the popular songs of her day and made a collection of them and typed the words of some so we all could sing them.

After retiring from her insurance job, she still had lots of energy. She became a church secretary to a minister of a Presbyterian church in North Philadelphia. She had to take a trolley or bus to the subway. It was a long ride, but she loved her work and all the people who came in to help. She would always send cards to them when she was in Wheaton. The church organist loved Flo's hamime sandwiches that she would take to him from time to time.

Florence, a very devoted Christian, was my Sunday School teacher when I was in eighth grade. I especially remember two things that she taught us in that class. The first was that we should always tithe ten percent of our earnings to God's work. I have done that ever since because of her teaching. The second, she challenged us to have devotions every day. She suggested that every day we read five psalms, a chapter in Proverbs, and one from the New Testament. I took her seriously and did that every day through high school and college. I am so happy I did, because these readings helped me know how I wanted to live my life and also helped me form my opinions and beliefs. I learned that God would always give me wisdom when I asked Him for it and He has over the years.

Flo was my Girl Scout leader at Northminster. She had a special green uniform and hat and a big band over her shoulder with many badges on it. I thought that was so great.

Florence had many friends, and they all liked to confide in her. Her advice would be, "Pray about it and I will also pray." She believed in prayer. She told me that she prayed two times a day for everyone in our immediate and extended families, calling each by name. I'm sure she must have spent much time praying in later life while confined to a wheel chair.

After Northminster Presbyterian Church moved to the suburbs, we all joined Woodland Presbyterian Church at 42nd and Pine Street. Flo continued to serve there also. When I got married, she took over my job as Primary Department leader. She was the head of Woodland's food pantry and sang in the choir also.

Florence told me several years ago that Easter was her favorite Christian holiday. A highlight for her was Tenebrae on Good Friday, the three-hour service relating to the Crucifixion when the pastor or elders gave messages on Jesus' seven words on the cross. People came and went at half-hour breaks, but Flo usually stayed for the entire service.

Florence believed the Bible was indeed God's Word and Jesus was her Lord and Savior. She loved to sing the old hymns. Her chaplain at Simpson House, where she spent her last years, said she would sing every verse of every hymn from memory during the services there. She was always proud to sing "Jesus Loves Me" in Chinese to entertain us.

I believe when Florence, at 91, entered heaven on December 13, 2006, the Lord welcomed her, saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful . . . enter into the joy of thy Lord" (Matt, 25:21, NKJV). And at that time she was so happy to see so many members of her family and friends who had gone before her.

 
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