Florence Irene Smith
Her family called her Babe. She was the youngest of the Ostrander family from the Bozenkill near Altamont, NY, the last of seven kids of Frank and Kathryn Ostrander. Predeceasing her are four brothers and two sisters: Alva, Ethel, Frank, Steve, Billy, and Lena. Her many nieces and nephews called her Aunt Florence. The next generation called her Aunt Babe. She was Mom to the one child she gave birth to, a very special mom and close confidant to a young man finding his way in life. In her later years, he would call her affectionately his sweetie or simply 'Sweets'. She was Gammy to her daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, set apart from all other grandmas who dote on their only grandchildren. Her friends called her simply Flo, and she liked that. It suited the personality of one who lived unpretentiously, always giving generously and asking for nothing in return.
She had come off a farm that had no running water and even today has no electricity. She went to grade school in a one-room schoolhouse, and in 1943 she graduated with her tiny class of thirteen from Delanson High in Duanesburg. A young lady ready for the city, she soon met and fell in love with a U.S. Marine who had recently come home from the Pacific campaign of WWII. She was a regular rider on the local bus driven by the young and handsome Leatherneck named Ken. It wasn't many bus stops later that the two fell in love. His full name was Kenneth William Smith, a local Albany High football hero.
Neither of them had much to start with but the post-war spirit that buoyed the country filled them with a determination to make a go of it. And that's just what she and her young husband did, scrimping and saving to live the American dream. One of her first jobs was as a phonograph operator in a Schenectady telephone exchange where subscribers could order music carried over telephone lines. She later went on to various jobs as typist, stenographer and secretary. She fulfilled her mission, moving away from the city life and settling down in her dream home in the Westmere suburbs of Albany where she raised her family and lived for half a century, the last seventeen years by herself as she left behind her predeceased husband of 46 years. She finished the last ten years of her career working for the NYS Research Foundation.
She named the son she proudly birthed Frederick William, the namesake of her father-in-law. Her son, Fred, would eventually move to California, marry Susan Kiff, and start his family in the City of Orange. As evidenced by the many pictures in her home of her granddaughters, Cambria and Kiana, she cherished the many cross-country visits she made to see her son and family.
She was an avid M. I. Hummel collector. The German-made porcelain figurines of cherub-like children, plates and bells, warmed her heart. She found a certain likeness of the chubby-legged figures with those legs of her young toddler son. In her later years, she delighted in travel, card games, and luncheons with her many friends. Her social calendar was always full. There were Tuesday bingo games at the Guilderland Town Hall and Saturday morning McDonald runs for 'bikkits' with a nearby neighbor who lovingly looked on her as her 'bingo buddy'. Sunday mornings were for being with her many sisters and brothers at the Cobblestone Reformed Church of Rotterdam. That was followed by sitting down to home-made cooking, often golompki, and enjoying an afternoon of banter with two of her favorite girlfriends. Interspersed were tea-and-dessert breaks at her kitchen table with a dear male friend who longed for the second mom she would become after he had lost his own mom when only twenty years of age. Then there were the occasional luncheons with nieces, nephews and friends, as well as the monthly gathering of her eight remaining high school classmates, one of which she had remained close to from the time when they met in the first grade!
Florence Irene Smith passed from us to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on July 9, 2012 at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, NY, about eleven weeks after being stricken by a stroke. She was 85 years of age and nearly to the time of her passing was the spunky, fun-loving, occasional prankster that those who knew her would most remember as the compassionate, caring soul that we loved dearly. Funeral services are scheduled for 11:00am on July 14 at the Fredendall Funeral Home, 199 Main St., Altamont, NY 12009. A private memorial service will follow for the immediate family at Memory Gardens, Albany, NY. All are invited to celebrate the life of this amazing woman and share the memories of her at a reception planned for 12:30 pm at the Cobblestone Reformed Church, 118 Putnam Rd, Schenectady, NY 12306. In lieu of flowers, you are invited to mail memorial donations to the National Stroke Association, 9707 East Easter Lane, Suite B, Centennial, CO 80112, or by calling 1-800-STROKES (1-800-787-6537).
"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going." John 14:1-4