Florence A. Melster
Dec. 31, 1923 — June 20, 2016
Florence A. Melster of Waukesha passed away on Monday, June 20, 2016, at her home in Avalon Square at the age of 92. Florence was born at Ft. Lewis, Wash., on December 31, 1923, the daughter of Jeanne (nee Fulton) and Robert Cook.
She was a graduate of West Division High School. Florence was united in marriage to John Melster on May 9, 1942.
Florence started volunteering during World War II when John was serving overseas in the Army and she never stopped. She was involved in numerous organizations. She started as a Girl Scout leader when her daughter was very young and continued working in some capacity for them for a long time. She volunteered at her children’s schools through the years and was active in the PTA and later activities at South High School and the Attic.
She was the queen of carpooling and always enjoyed having extra kids around.
Florence and John later became the first grandparents to join the Waukesha West Booster Club and worked at many events to support their grandchildren’s sporting activities.
They loved sitting on the sidelines cheering for the teams. Florence strongly believed in public education and helped work on a number of school district referendums over the years. Florence knew that quality education was critical to a child’s future and the future of the community.
Florence was a longtime Waukesha Service Club member. She enjoyed her time at the hospital gift shop and the thrift shop.
She served as president and later president of the Senior League. She remained in the Senior League until her death with a span of 60 years in the club. She was so very proud of the organization and all the money that was raised to support the hospital, the community and individuals that needed assistance. Florence was a board member of the Southeastern Wisconsin Health Systems for years when this group helped determine which hospitals could expand and get specific equipment. She found this challenging.
Quality health care was always important to her and she was involved in many committees at Waukesha Memorial Hospital as ProHealth evolved.
Florence was a longtime board member and president of the Visiting Nurse Association and was involved in the establishment of the Rolland Nelson Hospice. She was on the first board of Caring Place, served as president and had a great deal of pride in what this agency did to enrich the lives of older adults as well as support their caregivers. She and John delivered Meals on Wheels for years until they were in their 80s. They were a good team and had a good system for their route.
Florence strongly supported women and girls issues. She was actively involved in the YWCA until it closed. She was a longtime United Way volunteer until her late 80s. She liked the volunteer-driven aspect to determine funding for community programs. She was very thoughtful in her decision making and was not afraid to stand up for what she believed was best for the community and its residents. Florence received the first Beverly Sisson Award given to a senior who was making a difference. She also served on the Family Service board and was so proud of the impact the agency had on families and children.
She also spent many years volunteering at the Food Pantry, often with John.
Florence was an avid reader and learned so much through her books. She was in book clubs through much of her life. She especially loved her time in the intergenerational book club at West High School. She found her time with the students very stimulating.
Like John, the public library was a mainstay in her life. She volunteered and helped with many referendums for expansion of the library and books were her constant companions.
She was a longtime member of Beacon Lights, which helped to begin the library, until her death.
Florence loved history and antiques. She had many special collections that inspired learning. She was a member of the local and state Questors chapter and served as president of both. She especially liked her time with the Aging and Disability Resource Center. She never stopped advocating for seniors and people with special needs.
In 1995, the Waukesha Freeman named Florence one of the seven most influential women in the county with her daughter, Cathy. They also received the Volunteer Center Community Leaders Award in 2005 for their many years of commitment and devotion to volunteering.
Church was a very essential part of Florence’s life. She was a member and volunteer of St. Matthias Church since 1952 and shared her spirituality in many ways.
John and Florence loved to travel in the states and in Europe. She loved Ireland and Scotland, where her grandmother was born. Door County, Chicago and exploring Milwaukee were always favorites. Florence cared deeply about her community and she dedicated her life to making it a good place to live and raise families. She had strong convictions and was not afraid to speak up. She told it like it was. Florence enjoyed quilting, knitting, cooking, entertaining, a beautifully set table and flowers to name a few. She had a passion for life and liked to share that with family and friends. She cherished time with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
She created many memories for the family.
Florence will be missed by her daughter, Cathy Bellovary (Paul Schmidt) of Waukesha; son, John Brad (Mary Kay) Melster of Waukesha; her grandchildren, Tony (Hollie) Bellovary of Green Bay, Nick (Angela) Bellovary of Waukesha, Matthew (Nicole) Melster of Pueblo, Colo., and Caitlin Melster of Waukesha; and her great-grandchildren, Amanda and Sawyer Bellovary of Green Bay, Ava, Eliza and Isla Bellovary of Waukesha, and Isabella and Sofia Melster of Colorado; her sister, Dorothy Cook of Seattle; sister-in-law, Joan Cook of Eau Claire; special friends, Tom and Doreen Constable and Liz Craney; as well as nieces, nephews and other relatives and friends.
Florence was preceded in death by her husband, John; her brother Bob Cook; grandson Robert Bellovary; and son-in-law Frank Bellovary.
The visitation for Florence will be held on Saturday, July 16, from 11:00 AM until the time of the memorial service at 1:00 PM at St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 111 E. Main Street, Waukesha, WI 53186. The Rev. David Simmons will preside. Interment will follow in the church columbarium.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to Avalon Square, 222 Park Place, Waukesha, 53186; St. Matthias Episcopal Church, 111 E. Main St., Waukesha, 53186; or a charity of choice.
Florence’s family would like to give their heartfelt thanks to Avalon Square and staff who were part of her family and home; Dr. Stephen Morgan and the ProHealth staff, Assist at Home Brookfield and Seasons Hospice for their support and care during Florence’s journey this last year.
Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral, Cremation and Preplanning Services is honored to serve the family. For further information, please call the funeral home at 547-4035 or visit our website at www.waukeshafunerals.com for directions or to leave a message for the family.