|Florine Melissa Ross was born on June 10, 1912 in Huntington, West Virginia. She lived most of her life in, as Florine called it, her “adopted” home state of Louisiana as a Methodist minister’s wife. She was married to the late Dr. A.W. Townsend for 47 years.
When they first met, Florine was 13 years old, too young to do more than contemplate romance. However, they had something in common; they were both accomplished musicians. A.W. was a pianist and Florine was already studying the organ. They nurtured their relationship by means of correspondence for many years. It was on June 3, 1931, that they married then moved to Farmerville, Louisiana. While A.W. led congregations in spiritual direction from many pulpits, Florine’s ministry meant setting her talented hands upon the keys of the church organ. A.W. and Florine had one daughter, Jocelyn, who carried on the family devotion to music and in adulthood, answered God’s calling into the health care profession.
Florine devoted her life to God, her family, and her church. She had an enormous capacity to maintain balance. Florine was a well-defined individual who successfully kept the social connections needed in support of her husband’s ministry. Like the music she played, her demeanor could be classical and refined or snappy and energetic, or some wonderful mix of these. Her level of energy tempered with patience and love often led her to work with the youth at many of the churches where she and A.W. were appointed. During the time they served their last church at Algiers United Methodist, Florine worked in the medical records department of a local hospital. She was a dutiful worker and came to be well respected as a woman of many capabilities.
During the 1950’s, Florine and A.W. became grandparents. Delaine and Guy were born to Jocelyn and Don Guynes. During retirement years, Florine became great-grandmother to four children, Ross and Carla Gendusa, and Isabella and Claire Guynes. Retirement from ministry in Louisiana began in June of 1974. A.W. and Florine moved to Gulfport, Florida. For the first time in her adult life, Florine did not live in a parsonage. She and A.W. were so proud of the condominium they chose on the third floor of a waterfront high-rise and enjoyed having family and friends come to visit. A.W. became ill with heart disease, and died on October 16, 1978. Florine remained in their beloved home with cherished memories of her life’s love. Eventually, Jocelyn moved in to take care of her mother who had never gotten comfortable living alone.
Florine lived out her final years in a Retired Minister’s Home in Hammond, Louisiana where Jocelyn continued to help care for her. Two weeks before Florine died her high level of functioning and quality of life was interrupted by a stroke. Our memories of her are laced with musical notes, like the ones that composed her life songs and blessed all who knew her.
Delaine Gendusa, granddaughter
|Source: 2005 Journal|