Florence Winter Bennett died peacefully on June 24, 2020, just shy of her 93rd birthday. She was predeceased by the love her life and husband of 62 years, Dr. Alan David Bennett; and by her parents, Max and Anna Weiss Winter.
Born in New York City on July 9, 1927, Florence graduated from the Bronx High School of Science at age 16 and from Baruch College, City College of New York where she studied library science. An extremely strong woman of integrity who freely expressed herself, she and husband Alan created a loving family in St. Paul, Minn., and Great Neck, N.Y., finally settling in Cleveland in 1967.
While being a wife and mother were important, she was also proud to be herself: “I am happy to be all those things, but mainly I am me.” If she had a theme song, it would have been “I Did it My Way.”
Always one to pursue knowledge, Florence was a voracious and fast reader, and eager to learn new things. She regularly waded through stacks of magazines and newspapers. She usually had many books in progress to satisfy her varied interests and hungry intellect, and to prepare for the several book clubs she attended.
An avid birder, she sparked Alan’s interest in the hobby and together they literally followed the birds: on annual winter sojourns from the Gulf Coast to California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park; and each spring to their back yard in Orange, OH, their favorite Cleveland Metroparks, and the Black Swamp Bird Observatory near Port Clinton.
The couple’s travels also took them on adventures around the world with like-minded friends. They made many visits to their beloved Israel for education, tourism, and to connect with roots and friends, highlighted by a 2008 trip for the b’nai mitzvah of two grandchildren.
Florence pursued many other passions, from sewing, knitting, and crochet – she could make or mend absolutely anything – to enjoying Gilbert & Sullivan and Broadway musicals, to spending time at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She once brought home a guitar she’d learned to play. As it turned out, her motivation was really to encourage her children to pick it up. All four did, becoming proficient guitar players and song leaders – and she never played it again.
Florence’s independence didn’t diminish when she moved into Judson Manor in 2012. She befriended many of the wonderful staff and residents in her orbit. Nobody could walk the halls or join her at dinner without witnessing a dozen enthusiastic, “Hi Florence” greetings. It came as no surprise when she organized a regular bridge group at Judson: after all, she and Alan had played weekly most of their lives, and, well, what’s a week without a good bridge game?
Florence’s spirit lives on in the lives of many, among whom are her sister, Terry Tuttle; sons, Barry, Daniel (Devorah Uriel) and Michael (Laura); daughter, Tammy (aka Tema); grandchildren, Kevin (Hali) Paryzer, Andrew Paryzer, Emily Clark (Ray Schubert), Ian Clark, Andrew Bennett and Miriam Bennett; and great-grandchildren Veronica Schubert, Coralie Schubert and – eight weeks ago – Lincoln Paryzer.
A celebration of life will be held at noon June 26 and will be livestreamed for those who wish to attend virtually at bitly.com/smallchapel. The family will receive shiva visitors virtually from 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 27, and from 3 to 5 and 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 28. Minyan will be held both days at 6:30 p.m. Zoom information at email@example.com.
Those who wish to make contributions may consider the Judson Foundation, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Hospice of the Western Reserve or charity of choice.