Florence Leticia Meng, 98, a longtime, beloved resident of Lopez Island passed away July 18 after a short battle with cancer. She was in her own home, surrounded by family.
Florence had a way of making everyone feel welcomed and loved. She always put the welfare and concerns of others above her own. Because of her vitality and enthusiasm, she was known as the “energizer bunny.”
Florence was born in Poland in 1920. While waiting for immigration papers to the United States to be approved, Florence, her mother and three siblings spent six years in Argentina and six months at Ellis Island. After arriving in New York in 1929, Florence became a proud resident. She quickly learned English and became the valedictorian of her high school class of 2,000 graduates. Passing the test to become a citizen was an important event in her life. She has been a flag-waving advocate of the United States all her life.
During WWII, Florence became a registered nurse with the U.S. Cadet Core. In 1944 she met and married the love of her life, Dan Meng, a merchant marine from Denmark. They were married for 69 years.
In 1947 Florence and Dan traveled across the country and moved to Seattle. In those days you could buy a house on Capitol Hill or 30 acres in downtown Bellevue for $3,000. The house was chosen because they wanted to raise a family.
They were blessed with six children and their spouses: Karen; Lori and husband Steve; Eric and wife Anne; Denny and wife Deb; Bob; and Ron and wife Jennifer. Florence was preceded in death by her husband Dan, son Ron, grandson Kory, her parents Sarah and Phil, her sister Nell and brothers Henry and Alan. Florence and Dan left a legacy of 21 grandchildren, 36 great grandchildren, five great-great grandchildren and beloved nieces and nephews.
Florence was immensely proud of her family, who loved her dearly and learned many of life’s lessons from her. They will never forget her tenacity, charm, grace, and undying love and caring.
In addition to raising a family and being active in civic affairs, Florence worked as a registered nurse and later became a real estate agent, broker, investor and developer. Not knowing how to slow down and with a do-it-yourself attitude, she helped Dan design and build several of their homes.
Avid travelers, Florence and Dan traveled around the country and around the world. Multiple trips of six months or more were made camping in a VW bus throughout Europe and the United States. They made numerous new friends along the way.
In 1971 Florence and Dan bought Richardson General Store and moved to Lopez Island. A few years later they started a boat charter business. Many lucky islanders and school children enjoyed complimentary cruises, which usually included a Danish smorgasbord.
Florence was an active member of the Lopez Island Community Church, where she had many special friends whom she considered to be “family.” Volunteering was a way of life for Florence. In recent years she volunteered for the Community Church, the Historical Society, the Thrift Shop, Senior Center, the Lopez Christian School and many other organizations.
Florence had a passion for gardening and was a master gardener. She also enjoyed boating, dancing, recycling, knitting, sewing, jewelry making and other crafts. Even when almost blind, she meticulously made beaded jewelry. Those of us lucky enough to have one of her creations treasure the mismatched beads that were inadvertently included. Florence cherished books and was a talented writer and poet.
Florence and Dan loved to gather friends and family around the dinner table for a party that many times included aquavit “skols,” singing and dancing. Even at 98, she had the amazing ability to remember birthdates and wedding dates of over one hundred family and friends. She sent greeting cards to them all.
Few people have embraced life as fully and joyfully and with such faith in God as Florence Meng or magnetically attracted so many people.
A memorial service will be held at the Lopez Community Church on Aug. 24 at 2 p.m. followed by a celebration of life in the fellowship hall.