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Lifelong Ladysmith resident passes

Her indomitable spirit helped her survive the deadly Spanish Flu, cancer and a heart attack.But on March 31, 2011, Ladysmith said goodbye to the first girl born in town, Florence (Flo) Foster (Michie).Flo, as she was known around town, lived her whole life in Ladysmith. Her father moved here from Extension to run the first power plant. She was the oldest of three children.And at 105, there is no denying Flo must have seen and experienced many changes not only in our town, but in life as a whole.Despite more than a century in Ladysmith, her grandchildren said she was not a woman who lived in the past.“Gran pretty much always lived in the present and what was going on at the time around her,” said Shirlee King. “She was always looking forward and I think that is one of the reasons she lived as long as she did.”Flo did often speak fondly of her uncle’s candy store behind her house when she was a kid and picnics at Shell Beach.“And they made salt water candy,” said Gayle Gilroy.She also remembered, quite vividly, the coal strike in 1912 to 1914.Garth Gilroy said he can remember Flo’s stories about a constable in town who used to chase the children if they were caught out after curfew.“The constable would chase the kids home and if the kids weren’t at home at dark, there was no messing around.” Flo was a well-known face around town, as she was an active member (founding member) of the Eagles, Native Daughters and Eastern Star.Any canvassing that needed to be done, whether to register voters or raise money to fight cancer, you could always count on Flo.“She was really involved in the community,” Shirlee added.Asked for any fond memories of their grandmother and the family was quick to respond: Camping at the Gap.Their cottage in Poiler Pass on Galiano Island brings fond memories.Not only did they spend their summers there, but their parents were also raised there.Flo passed with having never found the answer to one question — her actual birthday.The birth certificate was signed on March 31 by her father, but she proclaimed it was a mistake and her birthday was actually April 1.To this day, no one knows the truth.“We have to go legally with the registered birthdate, but as far as we’re concerned, it’s April 1.”Flo’s grandkids also fondley remember the yearly tea parties held on her birthdays. Flo will always be remembered for her creativity when it comes to flower arranging for special occassions.Her grandchildren were quick to praise Flo’s very character, noting she was always gracious and never judgmental.“She was not a complainer,” said Gayle.When they were little, Garth said they could always count on their Gran to have candies or gum for the kids.“We’d always wait for her to show up because  she’d have something waiting for us.”Flo was a waitress before she was married, but her grandchildren cannot recall where. It took Flo a trip to Vancouver’s Stanley Park in the 1920s to meet her husband, Bert, who lived on the other side of Ladysmith.“They loved to dance, that was their thing,” said Gayle. They’d attend weekly dances and bring everyone home to their house for fish sandwiches.Bert and Flo had two daughers, June and Jackie. There will be a public tea to honour Flo’s life at the Eagles’ Hall on Sunday, April 17 at 1 p.m.

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