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In Memoriam: Florence Boyd-Graham

by Leona Graham on 29 Nov, 2009

in Personal

Post image for In Memoriam: Florence Boyd-Graham
In Memo­ri­am: Flo­rence Boyd-Gra­ham: Dec 22, 1913–Nov 24, 2009
The Pass­ing of a Grand Woman
Flo­rence was born in Toron­to into the era of WW1, lived through The Great Depres­sion, and with her hus­band, Lt Cdr William A. Gra­ham (RCN/RN/RCNR) and 4 (soon 5) chil­dren, sur­vived WW2 in Hal­i­fax.  The fam­i­ly moved back to Toron­to, did anoth­er N.S. stint fol­lowed by over 50 years based in Oakridge Acres, Lon­don. Los­ing her moth­er Nell at age 15 impact­ed her great­ly; she ded­i­cat­ed her­self to moth­er­ing, fol­lowed by first class grand and great-grand-moth­er­ing. Hav­ing seen her chil­dren through the var­i­ous lev­els of high­er edu­ca­tion, she returned to Uni­ver­si­ty (UWO) her­self in her late 70’s, grad­u­at­ing with a BA/Hons BA (but did an equiv­a­lent of an MA) in Phi­los­o­phy. Dur­ing these years, she worked in Vet­er­ans Affairs, was a mem­ber of the Unit­ed Church, the Uni­tar­i­an Fel­low­ship (a ded­i­cat­ed choir mem­ber in both), the Albert Schweitzer Soci­ety, fol­lowed by the Rag­ing Grannies (add ‘Rev­el­ing,’ she always said) who sing protest songs for good caus­es. On the envi­ron­men­tal front, in 1962 she brought home Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, got involved in ‘Pol­lu­tion Probe’ and The Coop Store. An active mem­ber of CFUW and the Oakridge Ratepay­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, she nev­er let up on doing pub­lic ser­vice. She trav­eled a lot to vis­it her chil­dren far and wide, and became a fond sup­port­er of The Find­horn Com­mu­ni­ty in NE Scot­land (where she went 8 times). Her favourite gath­er­ings were her local week­ly ‘cof­fee group’ with dear friends Pat Dins­more and the late Eve­lyn March, her month­ly book club with David Smith and friends—and of course good-spir­it­ed bridge par­ties! Flo­rence was, in essence, a grass­roots philoso­pher who spoke her mind, whose search for ‘truth’ was unstint­ing. Her inter­ests were wide-rang­ing, breath-tak­ing. Our fam­i­ly home, ‘540’, was vir­tu­al­ly an Open House for over 50 years, fea­tur­ing notable par­ties, work­shops and late night ses­sions. She brought the World into the Cana­di­an sub­urbs and turned her back­yard into a wood­land wildlife haven. She was the best Cana­da can boast of: A Grand Woman—not a ‘lady’, she said, that smacked too much of ‘the aris­to­crat­ic’. Our world is less with­out her phys­i­cal pres­ence but indeed, she walks tall amongst us in the best of Cana­di­an life, what made us Cana­da from 1913–2009, and through her sur­viv­ing chil­dren, Robert, Joan, Leona and Ralph—her dar­ling youngest son Ian passed away in 2005—and final­ly through her grand-chil­dren: Lau­ra, John, Bruce, Nathalie, Kim-Ellen, Lila, Alex, Lara and Dan­ny; her great-grand­chil­dren: Gabriel­la, Gar­rett, Sean, Geordy and Charl­ton.
Fly high and free ‘Sophia’-Florence, as you trav­el the heights with Socrates and Plato—and of course, the Great Sap­pho.
A memo­r­i­al ser­vice will be held at Mt Pleas­ant Chapel on Fri­day Decem­ber 4 from 1–2pm.

The Pass­ing of a Grand Woman
Flo­rence Boyd-Gra­ham: Dec 22, 1913 — Nov 24, 2009

Flo­rence was born in Toron­to into the era of the First World War, lived through The Great Depres­sion, and with her hus­band, Lt Cdr William A. Gra­ham (RCN, RN, RCNR) and four (soon five) chil­dren, sur­vived the Sec­ond World War in Hal­i­fax, Nova Sco­tia.

The fam­i­ly moved back to Toron­to, did anoth­er NS stint fol­lowed by over 50 years based in Oakridge Acres, Lon­don. Los­ing her moth­er Nell at age 15 impact­ed her great­ly: she ded­i­cat­ed her­self to moth­er­ing, fol­lowed by first class grand and great-grand-moth­er­ing.

Hav­ing seen her chil­dren through the var­i­ous lev­els of high­er edu­ca­tion, she returned to Uni­ver­si­ty (the Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Ontario) her­self in her late 70s, grad­u­at­ing with a BA/Hons BA (but did an equiv­a­lent of an MA) in Phi­los­o­phy. Dur­ing these years, she worked in Vet­er­ans Affairs, was a mem­ber of the Unit­ed Church, the Uni­tar­i­an Fel­low­ship (a ded­i­cat­ed choir mem­ber in both), and the Albert Schweitzer Soci­ety, fol­lowed by the Rag­ing Grannies (add ‘Rev­el­ing,’ she always said) who sing protest songs for good caus­es.

On the envi­ron­men­tal front, in 1962 she brought home Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, got involved in ‘Pol­lu­tion Probe’ and The Coop Store. An active mem­ber of CFUW and the Oakridge Ratepay­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, she nev­er ceased doing pub­lic ser­vice.

She trav­elled wide­ly to vis­it her chil­dren far and wide, and became a fond sup­port­er of The Find­horn Com­mu­ni­ty in NE Scot­land (where she vis­it­ed eight times).

Her favourite gath­er­ings were her local week­ly ‘cof­fee group’ with dear friends Pat Dins­more and the late Eve­lyn March, her month­ly book club with David Smith and friends—and of course good-spir­it­ed bridge par­ties!

Flo­rence was, in essence, a grass­roots philoso­pher who spoke her mind, whose search for ‘truth’ was unstint­ing. Her inter­ests were both wide-rang­ing and breath­tak­ing. Our fam­i­ly home, ‘540’, was vir­tu­al­ly an Open House for over 50 years, fea­tur­ing notable par­ties, work­shops and late night ses­sions. She brought the World into the Cana­di­an sub­urbs and turned her back­yard into a wood­land wildlife haven. She rep­re­sent­ed the best Cana­da can boast of: A Grand Woman—not a ‘lady’, she said, that smacked too much of ‘the aris­to­crat­ic’.

Our world is less with­out her phys­i­cal pres­ence, but indeed, she walks tall amongst us in the best of Cana­di­an life, what made us Cana­da from 1913–2009, and through her sur­viv­ing chil­dren, Robert, Joan, Leona and Ralph—her dar­ling youngest son Ian passed away in 2005—and final­ly through her grand-chil­dren Lau­ra, John, Bruce, Nathalie, Kim-Ellen, Lila, Alex, Lara and Dan­ny; and her great-grand­chil­dren Gabriel­la, Gar­rett, Sean, Geordy and Charl­ton.

Fly high and free ‘Sophia’-Florence, as you trav­el the heights with Socrates and Plato—and of course, the Great Sap­pho.

A memo­r­i­al ser­vice was held at Mt Pleas­ant Chapel on Fri­day Decem­ber 4 from 1–2pm (see pro­gramme below).

Florence-Memorial-piece

Memo­r­i­al pro­gramme — click for PDF

Main pho­to cour­tesy of the Lon­don Free Press

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Boyd November 29, 2009 at 18:36

Aunt Florence was always a wonderfully invigorating presence for us all. She cheered up my mother Anne, She retold with relish anecdotes of Mac Boyd's mischeivous pranks at school, and on his Sister Thelma who mothered them all after Ellen died..
Florence and THelma sheltered Rosematie and I at 540 in 1968 when I was working on a research project at UWO which Robert helped me out on when I had to identify and take options on land in the Beaver Rive4r Valley. Alas THe then Liberal cabinet cut the project funding vbecause it was in a n area that always votes Conservative!. Florence was a great help for both of Us, and Rosemarie really enjoyed Florence's multifarious activities. That was a very good time.
It was a delight that Florence should become a scholar of Nietsche's
iconoclastic euphoristic Philosophy, and a pity that no Profs at Western were into that field enough to take her proposed doctoral research on. Anyway we had many lively discussions, that ring on in my mind. Florence Soulstuff goes on through family and friends, on and on!

marianna lines November 29, 2009 at 22:23

My sincere heartfelt sympathy to the entire Graham family clan in Canada and worldwide over the passing of the Great Woman, "Soulstuff" Florence!
I met her many times in Scotland and in London, Ont. and found her a redoubtable character who was entirely present in every moment of her triumphal life. Long live her memory. There are few if any like her now!
I am honored to have known her, however briefly. With love, Marianna

Leesa Bolton November 30, 2009 at 08:02

I met Florence when she came to visit Leona ( in Somersham, Cambridgeshire) and she was certainly was a "grand women" I have fond memories of her and myself sitting in my "English Garden" sipping lemonade, and sharing expriences ... she was also as mean card player and had a wicked sense of humour and we at the Bolton household will always be thankful that we had the oppertunity to meet this wonderful lady ( and really she was). My husband, Colin and I will always remember her kindness and sense of fun..

Florence darling, you were an original ... God Bless

Your British mates ... Colin and Leesa Bolton

RuthAnn Day December 11, 2009 at 07:03

When I think of my friend Florence, my heart breaks into a great BIG smile. You were truly "one of a kind"! The mother of one of my dearest friends, Leona, and really a "mother " to us all. A woman of her word, and woman of integrity, a woman who walked with compassion for others, and not afraid to walk into the battle of life with both "dukes up". Life around Flo was fun, challenging, and very precious. Some of my fondest memories of Flo was the amazing ride to Boston to see Robin in your car the "unicorn" when you left with Leona for Findhorn, and I drove the "unicorn" home never to be driven again! A trip of amazing miracles. The tea parties in the backyard of "540" The long talks and dicussions about the meaning of life and the tears and laughter shared during periods of our lives of great joy and great loss. Florence, you were a real communicator and connector in your life, weaving together a masterpiece of relationships that formed the beautiful tapestry of your life. A Master Weaver you were!!! You thought deeply, loved lots, and laughed often. Thank you for the wonderful part you played in my life, and for the wonderful family of yours that blessed my life as friends. I know that you now KNOW the Source of that "light". I shall miss you. Give my love to Ian too. Much love, Ruth Ann

Barbara Stokes December 22, 2009 at 02:32

To my dear "mother" Florence, deepest gratitude for gracing my life with the warmth, wisdom and spit of a grand feminine mentor. I've loved you dearly since the day we met at Dorothy McLean's workshop at King's College in 1980. You and my soul sister Leona led me to Findhorn, which changed my life forever, putting me in touch with my own "soulstuff." "540" has often been my bed and breakfast of choice because of your homey and welcoming hospitality. May the flowers at 540 bloom in perpetual memory and glory of the de-LIGHT-FULL sweet friend you have been for me. I will miss you, but we will meet again.........Barbara 🙂

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