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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

I will never forget Florence …

By Denise Fast

The Oxford Triangle loses a great neighbor and a wonderful friend. It was Thanksgiving day when I received a call from Julie Jungwirth that Florence Henderson had passed.

She had been such a dear friend to Jim and Julie especially over the last couple years that Jim has been at home in his hospital bed. She would stop by all the time to give him hugs and a kiss on the cheek and warm Julie’s spirits. They all laughed a lot together as Florence always had a great sense of humor. They were truly there for each other. When Julie would host her annual Christmas party for all of her customers at Joni’s Coffee Roasters, Florence was always there. We would sit at a crowded little corner table, Florence, Julie, Julie’s best friend Nancy and my mother and I. We had lots of laughs. She was always very approachable and seemed to remember everyone’s name.

I originally met Florence on an open house in the Oxford Triangle. When I ignorantly asked her what she did for a living she very kindly and graciously responded oh I’m in entertainment. Her and her husband Jon Kappas were members of the Cal Yacht Club and had Big Flow 3 anchored there. Jon was a hypnotherapist. He had helped Florence get over stage fright and taught her hypnotherapy. I remember she used to volunteer at City of Hope and used these techniques to help cancer patients relieve their pain. In 2002 when John passed away, Florence called me and asked me to write his eulogy and deliver it at his memorial. I was truly honored to accept and Randy and I canceled our trip to Hawaii to attend. I remember her parting words to him were, “Jon, is it time to call it a day?” He said, “Yes dear, it is time to call it a day.”

Although we shared a neighborly friendship for years, I felt that I really got to know her best when I attended her one woman show at the Magic Castle. It was musical and magnificent! It confirmed what I recognized in the very beginning, that in her heart of hearts she was truly a songbird . I had no idea that she had grown up with no electricity and no running water. As a little girl she would literally sing for her supper at the corner grocery store and pass the hat afterwards to help feed the family. She was the youngest of 10 children abandoned by her mother and to sum up her childhood, “it was not the conditions that made her content it was the attitude of gratitude for blessings sent.” Florence’s book, “Life is not a Stage” is an inspiring book to read and would make a fabulous, “Rags to Riches” movie. For anyone who might be sitting at home feeling sorry for themselves, it should snap you right out of it.

I take comfort in knowing that when Florence passed over her husband Jon was standing there waiting to greet her with open arms along with so many other family and friends who have gone before her.

White roses, silver ashes, and a simple gold band, “Yes they walk with the Gods, Yes he still holds her hand.”

“She is as close as your heart beat, as near as your breath.”

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