EULOGY FOR FLORENCE SHOOK AT MEMORIAL SERVICE NOV. 14, 2013

AT TEMPE MORTUARY – TEMPE, ARIZONA

Hello,  my name is Lawn Griffiths.

I thank Lani Gates and the family for the honor to speak for a few minutes about Florence, an incredible lady who brought light to her world for nearly 92 years.  At the outset, let me say that my remarks are largely in the context of knowing the Shooks through Kiwanis.

I met the Shooks  when I joined Tempe Kiwanis in 1986. Ken was a robust Kiwanian,  ever drumming up interest in volunteering at Kamp Kiwanis in New Mexico.  A one-time lieutenant governor for a batch of area Kiwanis clubs, Ken took great pride in what would be 38 years of perfect attendance in Kiwanis. He was a lieutenant governor and club president in Mission, Kansas, making Florence “A First Lady in Kiwanis.”  He capped off his year here as lieutenant governor by taking Florence to Vienna, Austria, for the 68th annual Kiwanis International convention in 1983.  The next year that convention was held in Phoenix. Ken was a real force in Southwest District Kiwanis and probably could have been Kiwanis governor.

A very fat photo and memento album of the year 1982-83, that the Shooks gave me for our archives, showcases Ken’s year as lieutenant governor, and there are many pictures of Florence and Ken together at the many, many functions they attended in that demanding year.

With Ken’s distinguished Air Force career during World War II and Vietnam (20 years of active duty and many more in the reserves, retiring as a major), it is significant that Florence died Monday on the 95th anniversary of the Armistice, now commemorated as Veterans Day.

When Ken had his heart attack in August  1995 at the Southwest District Kiwanis convention in El Paso, Texas, a determined Florence went into overdrive as his caregiver, getting him back to health as far as possible.  Florence had the daunting task of getting Ken back to Arizona for recovery and rehabilitation.  He was a heavy man, and that frail little lady worked miracles getting him around, into and out of bed, in and out of a wheelchair, car, shower, chairs…..

Once Ken was healthy enough to get out again, Florence, became his driver, and they became a duo at Kiwanis meetings. Just six weeks after the heart attack, Florence took him to the club’s awards and officer installation banquet.   A photo in the Oct. 19 issue showed Ken in a wheelchair and a smiling Florence looking blessedly into Ken’s face.

From then on, Florence transported Ken to Kiwanis, and many of our Club members met them in the Shalimar parking lot and took turns with the wheelchair and getting Ken into and out of the car.

In the June 6, 1996, issue, in the visitors and guest section, I wrote, “Florence Shook accompanied Ken Shook to the meeting in her wonderful way.”

Ken always acknowledged to the Club that it was only because of Florence’s abiding care and love that he was even alive after that.  It became Ken’s tradition that at a Kiwanis meeting each August, Ken would tick off that he was alive for one more year because of Florence  — eventually nearly 14 years in all.

In September 1996, as editor, I wrote in the weekly Bulletin, “Ken Shook was accompanied by his bride, Florence, who might as well be a member.”  Another time, I identified her as “The Duchess of Ken.”  Another time I wrote,  “As always, Florence Shook was on hand with Ken Shook, who had dusted off a clever linotype (hot metal lead type) wall knick knack from Ken’s realty days. It said, ‘Old realtors never die.  They just become Listless.”

Finally that November, after a year in “guest status,”  the board of directors voted to make Florence an honorary member of the Club.  She would eventually compile nine years of perfect attendance, which ended when Ken had increased health problems and could no longer attend .

In 1997, KCOT voted Ken as the third recipient of its highest honor, the George F. Hixson Fellow, for sustained service to the Club and Kiwanis itself.  Ken turned around and sent $1,000 to Kiwanis International for Florence to become a “Lady Hixson.”

We remember how much Florence loved gardening and how in May 1992, she became the president of the 44-member Tempe Garden Club.

At the first Kiwanis meeting after the fateful day of Sept. 11, 2001,  our Club president Vinny Mirizio told about the deaths of employees of his company at the time, Adecco, in the World Trade Towers. He suggested how our Kiwanis Club should raise funds for victims’ families.  Florence immediately got up from her seat and went straight to the podium and presented a $100 check to start the fund.

Kiwanis secretary Judy Aldrich said I must mention Florence’s “wonderful sense of humor and her great work as a caregiver.”

My wife and I took two of our grandchildren to Silver Bells one summer day to visit Florence and carried on a chat.  It was clear she was getting good care. I would check in by phone with Lani, from time to time, to get Florence updates to share with our members.

Lani sent me a note after Florence moved from her home to Silver Bells.   “Some days we are called by name and others rewarded with her bright blue eyes and cheery smile…..  Mom treasures your friendship.  When asked how she’s doing, Mom always says, ‘I’m hoppin’.”

If we measure our lives by the company we keep,  we can all count ourselves as blessed by the times we kept company with that winsome, “hoppin'” lady named Florence Shook.

Advertisements