January 26, 2023
In loving memory ~
1934 – 2023
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Florence Agnes Brookes on January 26, 2023.
Florence was born in Victoria, B.C. She was predeceased by her parents Joseph and Grace (Geddes) Brookes, her brother Joseph and his wife Caren (Cristofoli) of Nanaimo, and her brother James of Sechelt.
She is survived by her brother and sister-in-law Bill and Peggy Brookes of Ottawa, sister-in-law Kerrin (Jim) Brookes of Sechelt, nieces Kathy Brookes (John Dando) of Terrace, Lorraine (Phil) Gerard of Calgary, nephews Scott (Audrée), Patrick (Romina), David (Fiona), Michael (Erin) of Ottawa, and grandnieces and grandnephews.
Florence touched many lives as an energetic teacher and volunteer. After a year of training, her first job was at a one-room schoolhouse in the tiny logging town of Leechtown on Vancouver Island. To the townspeople’s delight, she stayed a second year, having a fondness for her students and the residents of the town – no other schoolteacher before had remained more than one term.
Florence went on to teach primary grades in the Victoria area and was hired by the Department of National Defence and taught from 1960 to 1966 in Germany at the Hemer Junior School. During those years, she travelled with friends throughout Europe and parts of Africa and exercised her sense of humour and artistic talents, drawing cartoons about the school which were published as a book.
Florence moved to Nanaimo in 1968 and helped introduce the “individualized program” to Princess Anne School. She also taught at Princess Royal and Cilaire, retiring in 1989. Beyond the classroom, Florence was very active with the B.C. Primary Teachers Association, helping with publications and serving in executive roles, including president.
Retirement did not slow Florence down. She embarked on a second career, one devoted to volunteering, working with such organizations as UNICEF and the SPCA. She chauffeured Children’s Book Festival authors around town, collected tickets for TheatreOne performances and created posters and illustrated programs for events.
Many people will also remember Florence’s love of appearing at special occasions in costume – particularly as Garfield the Cat. A retirement scrapbook contributor wrote: “Garfield symbolizes Florence’s attitude towards life and children. She enjoys its naughtiness, independence and high spirits. She has this great gift of perceiving, savouring and appreciating the joy and the fun that lies all around us in our everyday lives. That’s why she will be missed by everyone.”
Florence passed away peacefully at James Bay Care Home in Victoria.
A celebration of her life will take place later this year.
Donations in her memory can be made to the SPCA and TheatreOne.
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