Florence Eva Underhill

Florence Eva Underhill

Florence Eva Underhill, jazz and opera lover, feminist, incredible cook who loved entertaining, passionate and stubborn defender of those in need, voracious reader, stylish dresser, pillar of strength, witty storyteller, trusted friend, one of a kind. Died of congestive heart failure November 6, 2013, Salmon Arm, BC.

Born April 17, 1924 in Montreal, Florence Eva Underhill (née Ricciardi) was one of 8 children (6 boys and 2 girls) of proud Sicilian immigrants Guiseppe Ricciardi and Annunziata Sgroi who had arrived in 1913 from the small village of Ucria. Guiseppe landed a job at CN rail, built a house in NDG, planted a garden and grape vines and made sure that there was always bean stew, bread and salad on the table even during the depression. Florence was active all of her life and as a girl played baseball, cross country skied in the Laurentians and went to the beach with her brothers and sister Fran. When she was just 8, her mother tragically perished in a car accident. Her eldest sister Fran became the matriarch of the family and they had a close bond all their lives.

She met husband Ellery Lawrence Underhill in 1939 when he was shipped from New Brunswick to Montreal to train for World War II. They fell in love and exchanged letters throughout the war, marrying upon his return. Larry and Florence left Montreal in 1946 when he enrolled in the University of New Brunswick in the forestry department. Her 3 children Judy, Michael and Richard were born in New Brunswick and they lived first in Fredericton and then in St. Stephen. In 1966 Larry looked to expand his work opportunities so the family traversed the country by rail to Salmon Arm, BC where he became woods manager at Federated Coop.

The Underhill’s bought a house and were enjoying Salmon Arm life when tragedy struck again. Larry was felled by a stroke in 1971 and Florence found herself alone with two young adults and a 10 year old. Drawing upon her experience in the office at Seagram’s in the 40’s, she returned to work as secretary for School District # 83. She worked at Salmon Arm Elementary until her retirement in 1989. A stickler for grammar and spelling, she excelled at work and survived the many early attempts at computerizing the office. She made many lifelong friends in the teaching community and loved engaging with children and passionately defended those who she thought needed help.

Florence loved arts of all kinds. She was an avid reader, green thumbed vegetable gardener and loved her daily walk on the wharf. She was warm-hearted and compassionate and would do anything for her children and grandchildren, family and friends. She was sharp of mind and wit with a dry sense of humour and spoke from the heart.

Florence (Nonna) is greatly missed by her daughter Judy(Rod), and sons Michael (Ellen), Richard (Suzanne), her five grandchildren Cara, Keagan, Jocelyn, Adriene and Carmen, brothers Emanuel(Betty) and Michael, and nieces and nephews.

The family is grateful for the excellent care given to Florence at Shuswap General Hospital, Bastion Place Palliative Care Unit and the caring support provided by the Shuswap Hospice Society.

Donations may be made to the Shuswap Hospice Society, Second Harvest, the Jazz Society or the Salmon Arm Transition House.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday November 16th 1:00 pm at Bowers Funeral Home. Online condolences may be sent through Florence’s obituary at www.bowersfuneralservices.com

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