Obituary of John Wentworth Florence
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CANISTEO: John Wentworth Florence died July 6, 2023, at Elderwood in the same North Hornell Bethesda Drive building he was born in 85 years before. He lived for two weeks after his wife of 62 years died. He was a sportsman, a politician, a hard worker, and a gentleman. The son of Claude Donald Florence and Shirley Phyllis (Spencer) Florence of Canisteo, he grew-up in the South Elm Street neighborhood surrounded by extended family. As a boy, he loved guns, cars, fishing, dogs, and hunting - loves enduring his lifetime. At age 15, he won “Best Trap Shooter” at a NYS Conservation Department camp. As a sportsman, he hunted bear in Maine, big game in Pennsylvania and Tennessee. He fished for salmon and smelt in Lake Ontario, hunted pheasant in South Dakota, coyote and deer in Steuben County, He loved Keuka Lake fishing weekends with The Boys. He belonged at times to both the Canisteo and Bath Rod and Gun Clubs. He had great affection for hunting dogs carrying Milk-Bones in his pockets for canine encounters. A graduate of Canisteo Central High School, he played basketball. He worked in the Pennsylvania Oil Fields, on the St. Lawrence Seaway System construction, and at his Cousin Jack Smith’s Texaco Gas Station. He attended Alfred State College. In April 1960, he joined the Erie Railroad as a brakeman shortly before September the merger with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad to form the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. He was promoted to Freight Conductor September 1965. “Gentleman John” was always an "Erie Man" working for the railroad for more than 35 years. He married his high school sweetheart Sally Ann Benedict on Friday January 13, 1961, at the Canisteo United Methodist Church. He left shortly after, joining the National Guard as a Sargent and winning marksmanship awards. He was a life-long car racing fan attending Watkins Glen races since the early 1950s with Uncle Harry Wentworth. His first car was a 1935 Ford Coupe. As a young man, he drove stock cars at both the Hornell Racetrack and Woodhull. Later, he and Sally joined the Twin Tiers Sports Car Club that led them on adventures followed by good meals with good friends. In 2002 he won a Solo II Championship Series in class with his Bobsy. He also loved his Corvette, Mercedes, MGBs, and Dodge Ram Trucks. John was civic-minded giving back to his community. He belonged to the Canisteo Volunteer Fire Company serving during the flood of 1972. He was appointed to the 1973 Centennial Oversight Committee serving as the Chair of Men’s Events and was a member of the Brothers’ of the Brush. A member of the Maple City Lions Club he was second Vice President in 1975 and Lion of the Year in 1974 – his CB handle was “Red Lion,” with a nod both to the Lions club and his red hair. Also, in 1974 he and John Baker teamed up to win their division of the Wellsville Inner Tube Regatta. An improvement from the prior year's escapade where instead of a trophy, they got a good soaking in the river from a leaky inner tube. In 1975, he was appointed to the Canisteo Village Board and served as Deputy Mayor to Mayor Betty Dennis from 1981 to 1985. He was the trustee liaison with the police and fire department helping spec out and purchase a new fire truck. He was also on the Canisteo Village Zoning Board and Hillside Cemetery Association. His car license plates were Canisteo and Kanestio. He was the organizer of family reunions keeping in touch with cousins: Dineen, Shorts, Thompson, Spencer, Wentworth, Gunn, Smith, Montgomery, Bixby, Shorts, Gillis, and Drake. Of all the things, he loved his wife the best. He signed all his notes to Sally in their secret code “OLOL.” During the first year of COVID shutdown, he was sequestered at Elderwood without her. The first day Sally moved into Memory Care at Elderwood on John’s floor, they sat next to each other for some time without recognition. Family and staff were afraid the reunion had come too late for love. But John recognized her. “Sal!” he said, and reached for her hand. They were inseparable again. OLOL, One Life One Love. Their lives ended two weeks apart. We would like to think their love goes on. Thank you to the Elderwood staff who cared for them. He is predeceased by his parents, a sister Beverly (Richard “Dick”) Shorts, a niece Elizabeth “Beth” Shorts (Jim) Knight; a daughter-in-law Caylee Nychis-Florence. Two much-loved cousins Norma Conklin (Bernerd) Dineen, who was raised with him, and Jack Smith. Surviving are daughter, Shelly Florence of Canisteo; his son Dr. Brian Florence and his wife, Dr. Jill Bradbury of Germantown, MD. Grandchildren Dr. Spencer Florence of Boston, MA, Ian and Veronica Bradbury of Germantown, MD. Services were at the family's convenience with burial in Canisteo Hillside Cemetery. In memory, suggested contributions are to the Hillside Cemetery Association, Canisteo Rod and Gun Club, The Canisteo Fire Department, The Canisteo Police Club, or The Hornell Area Lions Club. Arrangements by H.P. Smith & Son, Inc. Funeral Home in Canisteo.
A Memorial Tree was planted for John Wentworth
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at H.P. Smith & Son, Inc. Funeral Home - Canisteo
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In Loving Memory
John Wentworth Florence
1937 - 2023
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