TRAVERSE CITY — Florine Agnes Mort, age 91, of Traverse City, passed away peacefully with her family present on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013. Florine was born on May 14, 1922, in St. Johnsbury, Vt.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Cordelia (Dumas) Gagnon; her brothers, Gilbert, Theodore and Alfred Jr.; her husband, Joseph Leo Mort; her fifth son, Christopher Mort; and her grandson, Patrick Mort.
Beside her surviving sister, Cordelia “Corkie” Guisgand, of Wayne, Florine is also survived by her other seven children, Tim and his wife, Debbie (Starrs), of Canton, Greg and his wife, Sharon (Standridge), of Scottsdale, Ariz., Jef and his wife, Kathi Ivany, of Traverse City, Cindi Smith, of Scottsdale, Ariz., Beverly and her husband, Darren Albrecht, of Traverse City, Randolph, of Karlin, and Matt and his wife, Nicole (Mahre), of Phoenix, Ariz. Also surviving Florine are her grandchildren, Chase Albrecht, Benjamin Mort, Nathan Mort, Erin Mort and Nicole (Mort) Barr; plus Nicole’s two sons, Max and Nicholas Barr.
Florine’s mother was also born in St. Johnsbury, Vt., with French-Canadian roots so French, albeit the Canadian dialect, was spoken a lot while Florine grew up. Her parents, she and her younger siblings, Al and Corkie, moved to Dearborn in the 1940s.
Florine worked in a war plant in metro Detroit during World War II.
Florine and her older brother, Gil, were very close; after the war she had introduced her friend, Joyce Beulow, to Gil and they married in April 1946. Gil, who was home from the U.S. Army, introduced Florine to another serviceman, Joe Mort. Less than a year later she married the love of her life on Saturday, Nov. 9, 1946, and they settled in Garden City. Both were wonderfully busy for their 43 years together — raising eight children; the family doctor joked that he had put in a zipper for the C-sections — all eight!
Florine’s first three boys were Timmy, born in 1947, Greg in 1949 and Jef in 1952. After just over a three-year break, her first daughter, Cynthia, was born. After almost another three-year break, in 1958, her second daughter, Beverly, was born. The first of the next three boys, Randy, came quickly at the end of 1959, while it was over four years until Chris was born in 1964. Matt, the youngest, was born over two years later in 1966 when Florine was 44! She was a loving mother to all, always available for any of the children anytime.
Florine’s husband, Joe, was a U.S. postal clerk and for many years he rode on a train mail car from Detroit to Chicago while she was the homemaker and truly a housewife of the era.
After the kids were mostly grown up she picked up part-time work during the 1970s as a school cafeteria aide for her mad money. She even went back to high school and received her high school diploma while in her 50s!
All the kids went to parochial schools and Florine ran the Rosary Club for St. Raphael in Garden City, growing rosary beads, making rosaries and sending them out with missions.
After Joe passed in 1989 she sold the home in Garden City, where both had raised the eight kids. She moved up to a lakeside Grand Traverse winterized cottage that Joe had found in the early ‘80s. He was from Traverse City, and Florine was up every summer since 1947 — the area reminded her of the Vermont hills. Florine, in her new red 1990 Ford, was always on the go around Traverse with her favorite sister-in-law, Bernice Mort. Almost every winter up until 2010 Florine would fly out to Arizona, where her kids, Greg, Cindi and Matt, live with their families. While in Arizona she frequently would stay with her daughter, Cindi; they loved their happy hours with Florine’s standing order for a Cuba Libre.
In July 2007, Florine was visibly impacted after losing her son, Chris, when a now-convicted DUI driver ran a stop sign killing him and a 13-year-old girl in a car going the other way. Starting later in 2007 Florine stayed with her daughter, Beverly, while in Traverse City — Bev was her primary caregiver. Along with Bev, siblings, Cindi and Jef, shared helping Florine cope with assisted living.
Florine was a lifelong Catholic and an Immaculate Conception parishioner.
A memorial visitation and celebration of her life will be held at Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home of Traverse City today, Nov. 21, 2013, from 5 to 8 p.m., with a rosary recitation held at 7 p.m. A funeral Mass will be Friday, Nov. 22, 2013, at 11 a.m., with visitation an hour before, at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Traverse City.
In lieu of flowers, those planning an expression of sympathy may consider a donation to Florine’s family, c/o Beverly Richardson, or the Area Agency on Aging of Northwest Michigan.
Please feel free to share your thoughts and memories with Florine’s family at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.