Florence Alice Thomas, 90
Born July 21, 1927 McLean, SK., died May 3, 2018 Edmonton, AB of natural causes.
Wife, mother, family connector, unabashed inquisitor, good soul
Florence Mish was so small when she was born she slept in a shoe box. While she remained small in stature throughout her life, her persona was loomed large.
Florence and her siblings were raised in Wolseley, SK. Their father was injured in his prime and her mother Mary, a Polish immigrant was left to support a family of 7 with no assistance. Florence’s childhood was shaped by the responsibilities of pulling weeds, washing clothes, tending animals, cooking supper and a fair amount of ‘make your own fun’. With her brother Ed, they got up to all manner of rascal-type activity during their early years. They would remove a lightbulb from its socket in their bedroom and see who could stick their finger up highest without getting a shock. Florence regaled us all with stories of their childhoods.
In the spring of 1950 Florence and a few girlfriends were traveling by car along the TransCanada highway east of Wolseley. They noticed the railway tracks had been washed out by high spring run-off. They ran along the tracks, flagged down an approaching train and prevented a derailment. After working as an early telephone operator, Florence married Jack Thomas. He was a carpenter who built many residences and commercial buildings in Wolseley. Jack joined Beaver Lumber and with their sons Brian and Larry in tow, they traveled to locations throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta building Beaver Lumber stores. They eventually settled in Edmonton. Jack died in 1985Florence’s love and generosity were ever present. Her home was filled with warmth, good natured conversation and good humour. Florence served delicious meals, often with a nod to her Polish heritage. We hoped her cabbage rolls and perogies would appear at the table. She found joy in everyday life, in visits with family and friends, growing a garden, canning produce, cooking and sewing. And could she sew. Once when complimented on the lovely tailored garments she made, she responded with characteristic humour and self-deprecation “Every time I take on a project I think of something new and stupid to do.”
Florence worked for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 955 in Edmonton for over 20 years and once retired she volunteered for the West Division of Edmonton Police Service. She was never a timid person and always spoke her mind. Florence wouldn’t shy away from asking the awkward social or personal questions many of us think of but never voice. And when she asked one of those questions of others, we might squirm slightly but then we’d lean in to hear the response. You knew though, if she asked those questions of you, you were sunk.
Florence was a great family connector, keeping in touch far and wide. Florence remembered birthdays and anniversaries and whenever she could she’d travel to join in the gathering. She liked a party and was everyone’s favorite aunt.
In her memory we will strive to carry some of her spirit, vitality, directness and love of a good time in all of us.
Written by Holly Day and Barb Shea, Florence’s nieces