Florence Hanson wife of the late Ralph Hanson of Preeceville passed away on December 31, 2018 at the Preeceville Long Term Care Centre. She was eighty-eight years of age.
Mary Florence Stevens was born during the Joyous Christmas season on December 29, 1931. She was called Mary Florence after her aunt Mary Florence Stevens Purdy. But Florence being a 5th generation Canadian received this name because there was a long line of Mary Florence Stevens’s that proceeded her. She was the first child of George McLaren Stevens better known as Mack; and Margaret Annie McLeod better known as Peggy. Back then, nicknames seemed to be a big things, and when Florence became the big sister to Chuck, Helen and Gale; she learned to answer to the nicknames of Teed or Toog.
Florence was born in the small village of Bjorkdale; where her maternal grandparents had become unwitting Settlers in 1907. She was the oldest grandchild of Grandma “Lizzie” McLeod and subsequently became the Apple of Her Eye. Florence was always a very shy, very conservative child, who took life seriously. Like in most families there is always The Good, The Bad and The Ugly designation for the siblings in a family. So Florence could always claim The Good designation as she never gave her parents any problems. As for the other siblings it was a toss-up.
In 1944, the family moved from Bjorkdale to Bertwell Saskatchewan were her dad and Uncle John Stevens had a saw mill. Florence completed her schooling up to grade nine in a one room school in Bertwell. Then, because she was such a good student her parents sent her to high school in Hudson Bay for grade ten. But they then heard of a new school opening in Sturgis, called the Sturgis Composite High School. Now most people back then did not attend school beyond grade eight, especially in the rural areas, so this was a big coup for the Stevens family.
Florence boarded with the Reitlo family in Sturgis and helped work in their store and home for her board and keep. Now the lady of the house was called Norma and she had a brother called Ralph Sidney Hanson who was a fair haired farm boy from out of town. And he became smitten with this lovely dark haired, slim beauty that was working her way through school. But Florence stuck to her studies and finished school with very good grades. Now her parents had great ambitions for Florence and wanted her to go to teacher’s college like her cousin Margaret Purdy; but Ralph woo’d her after graduation and in the fall of 1950, Florence and Ralph were married in the United Church in Preeceville. A reception was held out at the Hanson farm for family and friends. Like many young couples times were hard and they both worked hard on the farm. One of the chores that she disliked most was washing all the disks in the cream separator. Because it was an endless task. One other thing she hated were the sneaky garter snakes waiting to ambush her in the raspberry patch.
It was out on the farm that Florence and Ralph started their family. Eunice was born in 1951, Joanne in 1953 and Robert in 1957. During those years Florence was honing her skills as an excellent cook, and a very confident seamstress. She was a perfectionist at best; and there was no room for error in her estimation. If something was worth doing; she was going to do it right the first time regardless of any other way. And a task master she certainly could be. Just ask her sisters!
Florence and Ralph left the farm and moved into Preeceville in 1959. It was in Preeceville that there last child, Beverly Jean, was born in 1967. So it was a busy life with three teenagers and a toddler taking up her time.
As her children got older she had the freedom to pursue friendships with six other women. They were Kay Graysly, Dolly Melnychuck, Olga Sawkiw, Evelyn Rahn, Ethel Bjornstad and Signe Simpson. These women were inseparable and they had such good fun together because as many of you know, in small towns you have to make your own fun. But Florence was heart -broken when her good friend Dolly died, and then a few years later Kay died. Both died relatively young. And she had to cope with her loss as best she could. Because friendship meant a lot to Florence; because she was a true friend.
After the death of her husband Ralph in August of 2006, Florence busied herself making perogies at the United Church with other ladies and being an active member of Club 60. But unknown to Florence and anyone else a deadly disease was slowly creeping up on her; like a shadow in the night. Slowly it robbed her of her memory, the person who she was, and attacked the very essence of her being. It struck with such a deadly force that nothing could save her from this damaging disease. Alzheimer’s they call it, but it is literally the scourge of the aging. Florence had just turned eighty -eight and she would have been proud to know that she had outlived any other Stevens in our genealogical family, since 1770.
But life is life; and how we live and how we leave this earth is all part of a Greater Plan. Right now, Florence is probably re-acquainting herself with all her family and friends who have patiently been waiting for her arrival on the other side. It will be a joyous reunion, that is for sure.
Funeral Services were held on Saturday, January 5, 2019 from Trinity United Church in Preeceville with Rev. Miles Russell officiating. The organist, Karolyn Kosheluk with members of the Trinity United Church Choir led the congregation in the singing of the hymns ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘Come Let Us Sing of A Wonderful Love’ and ‘The Old Rugged Cross’. A tribute written by Florence’s sister, Gale Stevens Arneson was read. Interment followed in the Preeceville Community Cemetery with Dustin Hanson serving as the urnbearer. Memorial donations in memory of Florence may be made to Trinity United Church as gifts of remembrance. Condolences can be sent to the family at www.preecevillefuneralhome.com Arrangements were entrusted to Preeceville Funeral Home.