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Florence A. Walsh (née Andrews), 86, Bridgman, MI, formerly of Ft Myers, FL, Sanibel, FL, and Chicago, IL, died of complications from Covid-19 on January 3, 2021.
Flo was preceded in death by her loving husband, Richard J. Walsh, eldest son Richard J. Walsh Jr, parents John and Grace Andrews, and siblings Jack Andrews, Patrick Andrews, and Eileen Filicicchia.
She leaves eight of her nine children: Kyra (John Kilbourne), Beth (Robyn Naramore), Kate, Ellen (Bruce Ackerman), John, Sarah (Pierre Klatt), Abra (Philippe Baup), Hannah, and beloved grandchildren Ariana Ackerman and Gabrielle and Mathieu Baup, along with many loved nieces and nephews.
From a young age, Flo had high expectations for her future. Her nurturing personality compelled her to complete a nursing degree. She met her future husband, Richard, while caring for his father at a hospital in Chicago. Dick was smitten with her natural beauty, vivaciousness, intelligence, and the compassionate care that he believed saved his father’s life. He invited her to breakfast following her overnight shift, a date that lasted the entire day! They wed six months later and enjoyed fifty-seven years of marriage.
In true Irish Catholic tradition, they planned a large family. Though Dick always said he wanted twelve children “because they’re cheaper by the dozen”, they stopped at nine for medical reasons. As a young mother, Flo tended to our multitude of injuries, illnesses, fears, hormonal swings, and heartbreaks with skill and wisdom. Hallmarks of their parenting style were freedom, choice, and natural consequences. By conducting weekly family meetings, they fostered open dialogue about important subjects and gave each of us a chance to weigh in on decisions. This democratic process set the tone for the years to come when they had seven teenagers at a time in the same house for nine consecutive years! These were difficult years that challenged her, but she eventually met that challenge with courage and resolve.
Flo’s true talents came to fruition through her love of fine art, music, interior design, antiques, civic involvement, travel, education, championing the rights of those less fortunate, and improving the status of women across the globe. She was a deft organizer and fundraiser. She worked selflessly to preserve the natural environment. Flo served on the boards of Lake Michigan Federation and Hope for the Dunes. She and Dick co-founded McSpoil which successfully prevented fast-food chains from doing business on Sanibel Island, Florida. She enthusiastically contributed time, energy, and funding to the Sanibel Music Festival, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, political candidates, local libraries, and other organizations and causes.
Flo’s appetite for life and learning led to extensive travel, business ownership, and a very busy social life. One of her many passions was antiques; she became a self-taught expert in this field. She opened her first shop, The Mustard Pot Antiques, in Hyde Park, Chicago in the 70s with a dear friend. The two spent weekends together hunting for the best pieces they could afford from auctions, shops, and barns. They each had an eye for beauty and filled their shop with fine furniture, rugs, and art objects. The hunt for the next piece never ended for Flo, culminating in her opening Bibelot Antiques at age 83.
Flo had a flair for cooking and entertaining. Our family dinners were lively and fun with discussions and debates over the news of the day, our school endeavors, or Mom’s and Dad’s tales of their latest efforts to improve the world. Mom hosted events for groups who came to learn, donate, and join their efforts. The food was wonderful, and a good time was had by all! As young children, we were allowed to sit on the front hall steps to listen to the speeches delivered in our living room on civil rights, women’s rights, politics, and the environment. It was arguably the most influential education we received.
As a residential and commercial interior designer, Flo created another business, Florence A. Walsh Designs, Ltd. She had an innate ability to improve any space. Satisfied clients happily recommended her, so she never had to advertise her services. Her forte was combining modern pieces with antiques to create beautifully sophisticated interiors that were warm and welcoming.
Flo's beauty and unique personal style turned heads throughout her life, often causing strangers to stop and compliment her on some aspect of her appearance. Her warm, approachable persona left an impression on people that made the moment with her feel special. She was genuinely interested in getting to know everyone she met. She was a trusted friend and a generous and compassionate woman with a zest for life.
The family feels deep gratitude to Wanda Shepherd, Flo’s dear companion, friend, and caregiver. Wanda tremendously eased the loneliness of the nine-month Covid-19 quarantine and said it well when she shared that “they were like sisters”.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Planned Parenthood, NARAL, your local public library, or public radio/tv station. A Celebration of Life will take place at a later date when it is safe to gather in person.
Arrangements entrusted to Pike Funeral and Cremation Services, Boyd Chapel. 9191 Red Arrow Hwy, Bridgman. Online condolences accepted at www.PikeFH.com
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