Florence Mae (Morris) Bader was born Nov. 8, 1926, in Rutland, Vt., but grew up in Poultney, a village nestled amongst the Green Mountains of Vermont with a large Welsh community. She was the younger daughter of Llewelyn Morris and Caroline (Owens) Morris. Her father was a Welsh immigrant, a skilled slate splitter and a gifted musician.
Florence always had a vivid and active imagination. As a child living across the street from the Troy Conference Academy (now Green Mountain College), she would set up the empty stadium as a hospital with all her dolls as patients and would minister to them. Growing up in a small New England town with her older sister, Caroline, Florence enjoyed spending much time at Lake St. Catherine. She held a life-long love for Welsh culture and music. She was also an avid baseball fan and often credited listening to games on the radio as helping her overcome rheumatic fever which kept her bed-ridden an entire summer.
At a Methodist youth conference Florence met a social worker who inspired her to go into that field.
A good student, Florence graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1948 and won a U.S. Public Health Service scholarship to earn her master of social work degree from Simmons School of Social Work in Boston in 1950. Pioneering in spirit, she became one of the early women to practice in the mental health profession, serving in Redbank, N.J.
Moving west, Florence accepted a position at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1954 where she joined the faculty of the School of Social Work. At the university she met Henry Bader, a Korean War veteran, who was attending the University on the G.I. Bill. The two were married in Lincoln Dec. 23, 1956. Their son, John, was born in 1958 and in 1959 they moved to Syracuse, Neb., where Henry worked with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Their son, Harry, was born in Syracuse in 1962. In 1965, the family moved to Le Mars, when Henry started working for the Northwest Iowa Power Cooperative.
In Le Mars, Florence quickly became involved with Westmar College where she taught classes in sociology and later became Registrar. Due to her excellent typing skills, she also typed numerous papers for Westmar students over the years.
Active in the community, Florence was elected to the Le Mars Community School Board in 1989 and served on the board until 1995. She was vice-president of the board from 1992 to 1993 and president of the board from 1993 to 1994. She was also a fervent member of the American Heart Association, receiving the Campaign Person of the Year Award for "Best Fundraising Year Ever" in 1989.
In addition to her academic responsibilities, Florence served as a mental health consultant to the Brentwood Good Samaritan Home in Le Mars, the Iowa Home for Boys, Floyd Valley Hospital, the Plains Area Mental Health Clinic, and the Cherokee Mental Health Institute in Cherokee. She also worked for a time as a librarian at the Le Mars Public Library.
Florence enjoyed bowling, bridge club, and community theatre, and she never gave up her interest in baseball. Despite having a family of avid Nebraska football fans, she never fully embraced the Cornhuskers.
Florence and Henry were well traveled. They visited her ancestral home in Wales, holidayed in Hawaii, and visited their son John in New York City and Los Angeles, and their son Harry in Alaska.
Florence is survived by her husband, Henry of Le Mars; two sons, John of Los Angeles and Harry and his wife, Patsy, of Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as her sister, Caroline Warren and her husband William of Concord, Mass., and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Preceding her in death were her parents.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Presbyterian United Church of Christ, 858 Seventh Ave. S.E, Le Mars, with the Rev. Jan Christensen officiating. Interment will be in Poultney, Vt. Visitations with the family present will be after 4 p.m. Friday at the Carlsen Funeral Home in Le Mars followed by a 7 p.m. prayer service. Visitation will continue at the church from 1 p.m. until service time.
A Vermont service will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Welsh Presbyterian Church in Poultney, with the Rev. Donald Pepper officiating. A burial service will follow in the Poultney Cemetery.
Honorary pallbearers include William H. Warren, Jr., Rob L. Warren, Jared Bader, Douglas Tewes, Ariel Stephan, Michael Rasch, Philip Bader, Nathaniel Watt, and James Vetter.
The family requests that any memorial donations be sent in Florence's loving memory directly to the Brentwood Good Samaritan Village of Le Mars, 1140 Lincoln St. N.E., Le Mars, Iowa 51031.
Expressions of sympathy can be extended to the family through www.carlsenfuneralhome.com.