ALLISON (nee Williams) formerly Green, Florence
Passed away on January 19, 2012 at Port Stanley Extendicare in her 99th year. She was born in London, Ontario on February 8th, 1913, one year after the sinking of the Titanic and just before World War One. Her family moved to England following her father Albert's enlistment into the army to serve in the war effort. She told us she experienced the bombing of those days in England and in reality was there but a fairly short period before returning to London, Canada following the war.
Upon their return her father Albert William, renewed his old trade of barbering while her mother, Martha Lillian became very active in the Ladies of the Glades organization. During this period they lived on Sycamor Street in East London where she attended Ealing and Aberdeen schools. They were not there that long before moving to 474 Chester Street in South London where she got involved in the world of boxing when she met neighbour Tommy Wallace and his daughter, Lillian, who was around her own age. Tommy was an ex boxer turned trainer and under his tutelage they formed a duo that became one of Canada's earliest woman boxing events. They put on boxing exhibitions, sometimes on stage at the old Loew's Theatre on Dundas Street in London. Unfortunately the years began to put a discrepancy in their matches as Florence started to show signs of growth while Lillian remained of smaller stature. This gave the appearance of being a mismatch and the duo was disbanded before she was fourteen.
It was shortly after this period that she was forced to leave school to help her frail mother at home, raise her younger siblings and so she was denied the opportunity to advance her schooling. She went to work as a waitress and found steady employment at the old London Cafe on Dundas Street. It was while working there that she met her first husband Jack green, who had a steady job at C.S. Hyman's Leather Factory where he worked until the start of 1970 when he retired. They married in 1931 and went through the Great Depression. It was into this environment that her daughter June was born in 1932. Three years later they had a son Gerald. These were not easy times for anyone but they managed to maintain a solid and loving family and even helped Jack's mother and father through those tough times. They also supplied lodgings and help to both his brother Ernie and his cousin Charlie Headley to weather the storm till they could find work and no longer needed their help. Though they didn't have an awful lot, their house was always filled with friends and relations, sharing in whatever they had, including the many good times and parties. June and Gerry could not have asked for a better upbringing or childhood and both consider themselves very fortunate to have been blessed with such wonderful and caring parents. During the Second World War Florence tried to help out by working at jobs whenever or wherever she could. From washing and stretching curtains on her wooden curtain rack for 25 cents a pair to taking a job at the Post Office at Christmas sorting mail. As the children became a little older she worked at jobs that took her away from the house for longer periods. She worked at the Hy Grade Corrugated Container division, just a few doors from where they lived on Pall Mall Street. She also took up a job as Matron at the old Capitol Theatre on Dundas Street but it wasn't until 1945 that she started one of her most successful endeavors. She started selling greeting cards and plastic goods like table cloths, door to door. She worked at this for over a year, all the while still maintaining a household, getting the kids off to school, doing washing, making meals and doing all the daily household chores. She was a bundle of energy and it was wonderful to see the amount of energy she had and applied to everything she did.
Her little enterprise kept gradually expanding until she started selling items out of the hallway at their home at 525 Pall Mall. She became such a successful sales person with her charm and business savvy that it soon became apparent that she needed something bigger. Eventually she expanded into the whole front room as well as the hallway of 525. She kept adding lines to sell and enlarging her stock supply until once again the business was starting to become too large to be housed in only the hallway and front room of the family home. So she put her shoulder to the wheel, took the bit in her mouth and took a huge gamble by renting a store at 679 Adelaide Street. Now her business, "The Hallway Variety and Gift Shop" had a proper home to allow her to let her ambition fulfill her dreams and around 1950 she opened "The Hallway" where she enjoyed a successful business until her retirement in 1976. She experienced sadness with the tragic death of her sister, Freda, who was killed in a car accident in 1951. The following year she saw the birth of her first grandchild, Douglas, son of June and Hugh followed a few years later with the birth of their second son, Donald. This was followed by Eileen and Gerry's wedding and then Tracy's birth in 1958, which gave her her first granddaughter. This was followed by the subsequent births of grandsons Todd in 1961 and Michael in 1962 and finally granddaughter Kelly in 1965. During this time she also purchased her father's cottage, high on the hill, overlooking the harbour and village of Port Stanley. She always called this her "little bit of heaven" and would enjoy many years of peace, good times and serenity there. It was at the start of 1970 that Jack retired and they started using Port more and more as both a summer home and a weekend retreat. It was in 1976 that she reluctantly retired from business and Port became an ever increasing motivation in their lives. They wound up living in Port most summers and during this time, both during and before their retirement, you could probably find one or more of their grandchildren spending time with their Nana and Bumpa. Ask any of them and they can recall many good times and adventures they shared with them there. This would quite often include one or more of their many nieces and nephews and many a pleasant and fun filled day was spent with both adults and kids enjoying their company. Nana's enthusiasm, excitement and joy was always evident and probably had as much to do with the wonderful memories as anything. It would be very rare to ever find anyone who could ever say they heard either Nana or Bumpa ever shout or holler at them. They were always loving and forgiving but always firm and they were always respected. Flo and Jack had many happy days together until 1991, when Jack suddenly and without any real warning, passed away. This left an awful void in everyone's life but life goes on. Florence tried many different diversions to keep herself occupied. She visited her sister Dorothy in New Jersey, visited her daughter June in California on various occasions and tried to immerse herself in both her children's and and grandchildren's lives. But there was still that loneliness that haunted her. Until one fateful day when she went to a garage sale and met the owner of the house who was selling a lot of his belongings. It was here that she met Bob Allison. He too had recently lost his long time wife and it wasn't long before they discovered they had a lot in common. They both loved travel, dancing, shopping, Port Stanley, hunting for bargains and saving money. It wasn't long before cupid's arrow had pierced both their hearts and although they were both at an advanced age, her at 81 and he at 87, they proved that love is ever present and truly possible when they both married for a second time.
This presented a whole new life for both of them and they enjoyed it immensely and I'm pretty sure it helped to extend their lives to the very limit. They got along so very well and enjoyed each other's company so much. Bob called Florence his "Guardian Angel" and I think she truly was. She gave him new meaning and purpose to his life and allowed him to live out the rest of his days in complete happiness with her.
It was in 2007, after Bob had reached the milestone of 100 years of age and just weeks before his 101st birthday that Bob passed away. They were both in the St. Thomas hospital at the time, where Dr. Keenlyside of Port Stanley had admitted them, mostly for observation.
After Bob's death, Florence tried to pick up her life and by and large she handled his passing with dignity and resolve. But she was now 95 and understandably was starting to slow down. She still had her driver's license and managed to still be able to get around. But now her riding companion was Father Time himself and he is a selfish sort of soul. Slowly, day by day, he continually nipped away at her strength and health until finally in 2008 she had to physically move in with Eileen and Gerry where she spent two separate stays of three months each. After the first time she wanted to try living on her own once again at Port and so she spent most of the summer of 2008 at Port. But her eye sight was failing rapidly from macular degeneration and she was losing her equilibrium. She returned for the late summer and early fall of 2008 to live with Gerry and Eileen but it became apparent that her needs were greater than what they were capable of providing. So in October of 2008 she moved into a residence at the Waverly Mansion. She started out alright but her health and eyesight continued to fail until it became too much for the Waverly facilities and she transferred to the Port Stanley Extendicare in May of 2009. She was able to still make day trips for a while but her health continued to fail until she became completely bedridden.
After such a full and exciting life as she had had, the crowing achievement for her finally came in December of 2011 when her great great grandson Dylan was born to her great granddaughter Alicia, who was her granddaughter's Kelly's daughter. This made five generations she was able to experience and when she held Dylan in her arms, you could still see the joy and pride in her weary old eyes.
She lived to see another year change on the calendar and often said she would have liked to reach the milestone of 100. It was one of the very few goals in her life that she didn't quite reach. Almost, but not quite. But she had a long life, full of excitement, joy, sadness, pride, romance and undoubtedly satisfaction. She leaves a legacy of love and cherished memories that will live forever in the hearts of those who knew and loved her in return.
Really, what a wonderful legacy to leave, wouldn't you say?