Florence Anna Lee Leifeste Blake was born February 26, 1923, on the family ranch near Art, Texas to Ernest F. C. and Nellie Louise Kothmann Leifeste. Florence was the youngest of nine children and enjoyed her time with her large family raising cattle in the Texas hill country. She had three brothers: Sam, Roy, Dietrich (DC), and five sisters: Bessie and Dessie (twins), Esther, Myrtle, and Vernelle. Her first language was German and she learned to speak English in the 4th grade. They all spoke German at home and English in school. She rode a horse to and from her one room schoolhouse. Her parents eventually moved to Mason so the children could further their education. As a teen, Florence attended and graduated from Mason High School and then trained as a nurse at the Baptist Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated in 1938 as a RN, following in the footsteps of her five older sisters, all of whom graduated as nurses from the same school.
Florence Blake had been a Registered Nurse six years when her fiancée was killed in World War II. Florence felt a deep and abiding love for her country. She decided to join the Army Nurse Corps during World War II and served from 1945-1946. Florence served stateside at Ft. Sam, Ft. Sill, and Ft. Bliss, tending to the solders injured in the European and Pacific theatres. Over the years, she would reflect quietly on the soldier’s wounds and their courage, and the lingering battles they faced off the front lines. Those faces and lives shaped her career and she never forgot the need for dignity and respect for her patients, regardless of their injuries, rank in life, or potential for healing. When asked recently why she joined the armed services during World War II, she smiled and simply replied, “I love my country very much.”
After her discharge from the Army Nurse Corp, Florence moved back to Mason, Texas, and worked in a physician’s office. It was during this time, on a blind date, she met her husband to be, Oscar Blake. They were married in 1952 and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, eventually settling in Roswell, New Mexico. They had two children, Brenda and Glen. Florence was active in nursing and nursing organizations for 25 years, working at the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center as the Head Nurse on a Surgical Unit and at a physician clinic. She then became the Director of Nursing for the first Hospice established in Roswell, New Mexico. The patients’ need for dignity during life and death had come full circle for her professionally and personally. Over the years, her coworkers became life long friends and still remain in contact over the many miles.
Every summer Mom loved to travel back to the hill country to see family and the homestead she adored. Family reunions were large, loud, and lots of fun. There was always a mixture of German and English language, sprinkled with ranching, lots of nursing stories, and loads of laughter.
Florence moved back to Mason, Texas, her beloved hill country home, in 1997. She attended the Art Methodist Church, which her grandfather helped build and where she worshipped as a child. Her faith was the center of her life. Florence loved her family, her friends, and her church and they loved her back. On September 12, 2009, in the loving care of her family and San Antonio Odyssey Hospice House nurses, Florence Anna Lee Leifeste Blake of Mason and Fredericksburg, Texas, passed away peacefully from the arms of her family into the loving arms of our Lord. She fought a courageous battle against cancer. Florence was 86 years old. She will be greatly missed.
Florence is survived by her children, Brenda Blake Klotzbach and son-in-law Mark of San Antonio, Texas; Glen Blake and daughter-in-law Cindy of Roswell, New Mexico; grandchildren Emily, Corey, and Ashleigh; sister-in law Melrose Leifeste, Fredericksburg, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews whom she adored.
Viewing was held Tuesday, September 15th, at Gentry Funeral Home from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm. Services will be held at Art Methodist Church on Wednesday, September 16, 2009, at 2:00 pm, with internment to follow at the Art Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Art Methodist Church.