We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Florence Wolff Seltzer Morgenstein. We have known today was coming for a long time, and in a way it is a blessing, but it is also difficult to understand that Flo is really gone.
She was born in New York on July 28, 1928, the daughter of Jack & Jennie. She was raised with her beloved younger brother Harold, who we remember with affection today.
She went to high school and then secretarial school. She would always use her shorthand for grocery lists. Later, she worked at Macy’s.
Larry and Flo’s mothers set them up; Flo had to break an engagement to someone else to be with Larry. They were married on September 25, 1950. They had a great marriage. They played tennis and traveled and had a lot of close friends. They were very active at our shul, Temple Beth Sholom and Flo was not only President of the Sisterhood but a strong advocate for women’s rights in the service. They were married for 33 wonderful years until Larry died, so tragically and so early, in 1983. I remember sitting next to Flo at the hospital and there were a lot of family members and friends and we were all scared. And a nun comes in and asks Flo if she wants to pray with her. And Flo doesn’t know how to say, “We’re Jewish and we don’t pray your way.” So she says, “Sorry but we’re Seltzers.” And the nun does not quite get it, so she asks her if the others there would like to pray with her. And Flo wants to be polite but she’s getting frustrated, so she says, “They’re all Seltzers.” I tell this story because it shows how Flo was always polite, but Jewish to her core. Flo had a very tough time in her grief but then wanted to help others. Flo and Mark were even interviewed on the Sally Jesse Raphael about coping with grief.
She was the loving mother of Mark, Rhonda and Sharon. She was a stay at home mom who was devoted to her children. Her kids could go to her for anything and she gave wonderful and non-judgmental advice. Her generosity was over the top. She was especially talented at crafts, made clothes for her girls, even for the Barbie dolls. Mark remembers vacations on a relative’s farm in Mayapac, NY and going over a bump they called the rollercoaster. He remembers how Flo not only quit smoking but also helped others to do so with a group called Smokenders.
How do we picture Flo? She was so particular about her hair and her nails and the way she dressed. And so she always wanted her girls to be the same way. Rhonda talks about how even when Flo had become non-verbal at the end, she would indicate when they needed “to do something with that hair.”
She was proud of Sharon and Ron, Rhonda and Arthur, and Mark and Diane.
She was the loving grandmother of Matthew and Diana and Jeffrey Katz and Lauren. She was a wonderful grandmother. As an example, Flo and Lauren would do facials and make up for hours. She always asked, “What kind of food should I get for you?” She made her own very special brisquitt. She always gave the kids “magic kisses.” Matt posted a beautiful message the other day saying, “Here’s a magic kiss from me to you. Everything’s going to be okay. Watch over me.”
She married Walter in November 1988 and they retired to Pembroke Pines, Florida, Florida. They have been married for 29 years and Walter has been a loving and caring husband. She wrote a thank you note to her kids after the wedding to Walter and she said she was filled to the brim with happiness, that she felt truly blessed, that their acceptance meant the world to her. Walter and Flo traveled and had adventures. They even went parasailing in their 70’s. None of the kids went, but they did. They were even wedding crashers and danced at other people’s weddings. They always went to synagogues on their trips.
Family was everything to her. She became close to Walter’s children and grandchildren and they all became part of her life. Candy and Tim, Steve and Sharon, Larry and Geena, We remember Jerry with affection and mourn with Mary and Joe. There was always Thanksgiving with both the Morgenstein and Seltzer families. Sharon Morgenstein said that before Flo, she had no idea that you could wear jewelry to bed and that you could have every hair in place when you woke up every day.
When Florence moved up to Massachusetts for her care four years later, Walter followed her to the north so that he could see her. When he visited her, she said, “I know you. You’re my husband.”
How will we remember Flo? We will picture her on a cruise, laughing, her hair and her nails and her clothes just right. She was a righteous woman. May she rest in peace. Let us say Amen.