A Tribute

to

Florence Shires Webster


 

 

On Valentine's Day,  2010, Florence and Dick Webster will celebrate their 45th Wedding Anniversary.  I thought it fitting to celebrate the life of the one I have called "Mom," since 1965.  As you will see, Flo Webster models the "Purpose Driven Life".  She continues to be an inspiration to those of us privileged to know her.

Don Webster

Florence Webster

Skagit Valley tulip festival, 2007.

Florence Ida Shires was born October 21, 1930 in Pasadena , CA .  She was the middle child of three girls, all born within a period of  3 ˝ years.  Her parents, Grace and Wilbur, were both teachers.  They had been married in China, where they served for a time as missionaries.  Upon settling in South Pasadena, California, Florence's Father taught in public Jr. High, which he did  for the next 25 years.

Eleven years later, Florence’s father found a church for his family whose emphasis was on young people and world missions. It was here that Florence became immersed in leadership training through Christian Endeavor. She met famous missionary speakers like Corrie Ten Boom, and she was routinely exposed to wise Christian leaders from Fuller Seminary.  Florence says that these experiences have her a hunger for God's Word and presented her with a world view from an eternal perspective. 

Florence was an enthusiastic student.  While going through the South Pasadena school system, she remembers receiving academic awards, which included a prize in the Oratorical Contest in 7th grade; her topic: “Let Us Help China Defeat Japan!”.  In 9th grade she got a 1st place in the Speed Contest for Typing, using an old manual Royal typewriter.  Her mother started Florence in piano lessons while in first grade. Music would remain important to Florence throughout her life.

Florence on the left with younger sister, Mary and older sister Helen.

 

Wilbur and Grace Shires with Helen, Mary and Florence, 1934.

Florence at 12 years old.

Florence at 14 years old.

Florence studied music, which served her well throughout her life.

 

 

Florence graduated from South Pasadena High School as the Top Girl Student Graduate, receiving the Pan Hellenic Key.  Her academic record brought scholarship offers from Stanford University and UCLA . Florence decided to go to Whitworth College, a Christian college in Spokane, WA.  After two years at Whitworth, she transferred to Seattle Pacific College. 

While in school, Florence was active in outside ministries, primarily for children. During her summers see served as counselor in children's camps and conducted Vacation Bible Schools in unreached areas of Puget Sound and Vancouver, B.C.  In 1952, Florence graduated from Seattle Pacific College Cum Laude, with a teacher's certificate. 

Following college, Florence taught a class of sixteen special needs 8th graders at San Gabriel Christian School. She taught all subjects including Science, Bible, and U.S. Constitution. It was challenging, but she felt that she was putting to use the teaching tools she had acquired throughout her education. 

Florence loved teaching, but felt a keen desire for more formal training in Bible.  She studied one year at Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta , Canada, adding classes in accordion, piano, and voice.  In the summer, she travelled with a gospel team from Prairie Bible Institute for three months through many  Northeastern states, as part of a girls’ trio and as a soloist in piano and accordion.

Graduation from Seattle Pacific College, 1952.

She then served for one year with Children’s Bible Fellowship stationed in Vista, CA. She also travelled to Bible Schools on the West Coast to recruit workers for that organization.  Next, Flo set out for South Carolina to attend graduate school at Columbia Bible College; she remembers travelling for three days and nights by Greyhound bus. During her two years of graduate study at Columbia, she travelled many weekends with gospel teams to towns nearby, playing the accordion and singing in the Grad Girls’ Trio.   After completing her thesis, Flo received a Masters Degree in Bible and Missions.

Finally,  at the age of twenty-eight, Florence joined the Overseas Missionary Fellowship and travelled to Asia as a single young woman.  Singapore was the first stop for six months of Orientation at OMF international headquarters.  Her calling from God was clear, to work with students.  Appointed to Taiwan, she studied Mandarin Chinese and, for three years, immersed, herself in the Chinese culture.  During fourth and fifth years, she lived in Taipei and helped lay the foundations for Campus Evangelical Fellowship, which gradually grew into a thriving, indigenous student movement throughout the island .

Living in Taipei.

With co-workers, Jean Edscorn, and Gwen Wang.

Giving music lessons at a student conference.

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Dick and Flo Webster email address:  flowebsterca@yahoo.com   

             

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