My Aunt Florence passed away last week. Born on April 30, 1917, she came into this world three weeks after the United States declared war on Germany. She died, as the United States stands enmeshed in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. For someone who had such bellicose bookends marking her life, she was a lady of great warmth and humor.
Because she was the eldest of nine siblings, her knowledge of our family history was the most extensive — she had lived it first hand. In my blog, “It's All in the Detail,” I related one of her stories about her maternal grandmother, Laura Jane Feasel Lynch. She also had stories about her paternal grandparents, Samuel and Clara Jacobus Hoy.
Clara, Florence said, favored the male grandchildren. On one occasion, Clara had given Florence's brother Johnny a sack of candy. In recounting the story some 80 years later, Florence remained slightly offended that Johnny had not shared one piece of this windfall with her.
She also told stories of Christmas at the Hoy family farm. Tradition had a huge evergreen on the homestead being lit with candles on its branches — a most spectacular sight. Her Uncle Robert, only 10 years older than Florence and the youngest of Sam and Clara's boys, was in charge of the water bucket used to douse any errant flames that lighting the Christmas tree invariably created.
Storytelling was Aunt Florence's favorite form of communication. Seeing Aunt Florence meant hearing a story that was guaranteed to make you smile, if not cause an outright belly laugh. As often as not, she was the target of her own stories, some silly thing she had done or that had happened to her.
After my brother received his associate's degree, he went to Mentor and moved in with Aunt Florence as he went job hunting. I think Aunt Florence enjoyed having him to fuss over, and I know my brother enjoyed that time with her, as well as getting a chance to know his “Cleveland” cousins. His tales of Aunt Florence's cooking were mouth watering to those of us listening, and her lasagna, apparently, was the closest thing mere mortals could get to heaven.
Today, Florence Laura Hoy Fry is being laid to rest. She will lie beside her beloved husband, Wilbur Chester Fry in Oakwood Cemetery.
In a world of negative and strident voices, there is sadness in knowing that a voice of such warmth and laughter has been forever stilled.
Until Next Time …
Note this post first published online, October 2, 2007, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online http://www.thenews-messenger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?Category=BLOGS02
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