|Early on the morning of August 8, 2007, Florence Pearl (Syson) Clark passed away in the Stettler Health Care Center after losing a courageous three-year battle with cancer. She is now in the presence of her Lord and Saviour, who she loved and served.
She was born December 27th, 1913 on the Hartt homestead near Jacksontown, Carleton County, New Brunswick. When she was three months old, she came across Canada by train with her mother to join her father, Richard, and her brother, Thurston, on the homestead north of Stettler.
Florence attended Pilot Knob School where her mother Caroline was the first school teacher 100 years ago. At age 17, she attended Normal School in Camrose to become a teacher herself. For the next 70 years, she helped organize Normal School Class reunions and for 60 years a “round robin letter” between classmates was enjoyed.
Her teaching career lasted over 30 years. The schools she taught at were Lynx, Kinsella, Elk Point, Nevis, Pilot Knob, Blumenau, Cora Lynn, Stettler Elementary. She substituted at Botha, Waverly, Drake (Tees), Silver Prairie, Vimy Ridge, Fritz Hill, Wellsburg, Liberal, Lyncot. She made lifetime friendships with some of her pupils, who still came to visit and phoned after all those years.
Her parents were Charter Members of the Stettler Baptist Church so it was natural for Florence to enjoy attending Sunday School, Church and Young People’s group. She accepted the Lord as her Saviour, was baptized, and joined the church in 1927. She was active in the church all her life. She served as the Church Historian, Sunday School teacher, Deaconess and Treasurer of the Western Baptist Missionary Society.
Florence had a lifetime membership in the Western Baptist Missionary Society, in the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and in the Stettler Hospital Volunteer Society. She was active in the Pilot Knob Ladies’ Club for many years. She was the co-editor of a community history book, “Red Willow Reflection.” For 35 years, Don and Florence willingly volunteered at the Nursing Home where they compassionately helped and fed the elderly residents. One day Florence commented that “I just don’t know when I will be on the other end of this spoon!” Also, for 25 years they faithfully took their turn delivering Meals on Wheels to the shut-ins.
Florence married Don Clark on July 14, 1942 and they spent 61 happy years together. To this union three children were born. As Carole, John and Colleen grew, left home, got married, and began families of their own, Don and Florence joyfully moved into a new role of being grandparents. After they retired from farming and teaching, they moved into Stettler in 1989 where they had more time to enjoy each other. They had always shared a marvelous companionship and especially enjoyed traveling in their trailer. They had the privilege of touring the United States, United Kingdom and also Europe. After Don’s “home-going,” Florence moved into the Willow Creek Lodge in 2003 where she adjusted to a new life and made new friends.
Florence was the family historian and was always noted for her wonderful story telling. Don and Florence hosted an International Syson Reunion in 2001. New-found cousins came from England, Cyprus and three U.S. states. At 90, Florence still enjoyed meeting many cousins at three Hartt family reunions, one in New Brunswick and two in Alberta.
Florence has lived a good, full life. She was a gracious lady, always presenting herself with poise and dignity. More importantly, she had a kind and compassionate heart that led her into action to help others in need, whether it was with a kind word of encouragement, a pat on the back for a job well done, or simply a grateful smile or a whispered prayer. Although she worked hard for her money, she would generously share what she had to help someone in need. For example, she paid for a child to attend Bible camp and helped to pay tuition for a student to attend Bible School. She supported many missionaries and charitable organizations. In the late 50’s, she lovingly opened her heart and her home to 13 year old Evelyn who needed a home while she finished out the school year. Florence seized that opportunity to be a strong, positive influence in the life of a young girl. At school, she was Miss Syson or Mrs. Clark to her many pupils who can attest to her caring guidance as a dedicated teacher.
Florence will also be remembered for her hospitality as she enjoyed having company in her home. No matter the size of family, they were all welcome at her table. Other guests she especially looked forward to were the numerous missionaries who were home on furlough. The family enjoyed the many interesting and intriguing stories. Florence felt so blessed to have known so many dear friends from far and near.
Carole, John and Colleen are so thankful to have been raised by a Christian mother. She was truly interested in every family member and prayed for each one. She demonstrated daily an example of Christian love to her family and to all who had the privilege of knowing her. Our hope and prayer is that we will take what she has taught us about life and that it will make a big a difference in the lives of others, just as she has done.
Florence was predeceased by her husband Donald (2003), parents Richard (1958) and Caroline (1945), brothers Gerald (1915) and Thurston (1979), sister-in-law Dorothy Syson (2001), and nephew Kenneth Syson (2006).
Florence will be lovingly missed by her children Carole (Eldon) Dick of Lousana, John (Dianne) Clark of Stettler, Colleen Newlove of Calgary; her grandchildren Laureen (Graydon) Smithers, Ronda (Matt) Tees, Brad (Amanda) Clark, Ryan Clark (Tanya), Shannon Clark (Darryl), Ryan (Jamie) Newlove, Brent (Brenda) Newlove; her great-grandchildren Kyle and Devon Smithers, Calvin Tees and Nathan Newlove. Also, niece Joy Syson, cousins Paul and Rose Hartt, Shirley Webb, Eileen (Bill) Erichson, Marjorie Lohr and Joyce Webb plus numerous other relatives and a host of wonderful friends.|