Florence Irene was born January 24, 1916, to Leona (Despain) and Ephraim Joachim Berends at the family farm south of Englewood, Kansas. She was the third child with two older brothers; Florence immediately became “Sis” Florence helped care for her younger siblings. Among her most vivid memories was the day Vera and she were playing “going to Aunt Maud’s “ (at the time Florence was 4 and Vera was 2) Vera wouldn’t stop so Florence followed Vera all the way to Aunt Maud’s house and then was punished for running off. When Florence was older helped with the outside chores – milking, feeding calves, and taking care of the chickens – anything that needed to be done. Florence said Vera did the cooking and sewing and I did the outside work along with the boys.
Florence attended eight years at the Crooked Creek Country School, where she belonged to the Comfort League of Cousins which involved pen pals across the country. Florence went one semester to high school at Knowles, Oklahoma. Florence began working for Mrs. J.S. Dillon where she learned the way to tell if the socks were clean was to taste them. She also worked for Mrs. Clarence Hall where she met her future husband Roy for the first time. On January 28, 1934, Florence and Roy O. Whisenhunt were united in marriage. Shortly after they married they moved near Flagstaff, Arizona, to work on a chicken ranch. Florence’s brother Coy and Roy’s Sister Lora went with them, they only stayed a few months because the brooder house caught fire, burned to the ground, and ended the business. They returned to Gate to start a family to which 7 children were born to the union Leona Irene, Edna May, David (died shortly after birth), Roy Olen, Bernice Faye, Merle Allen, and Nancy June, where they lived on the farm northeast of Gate, until Roy was killed on February 13, 1944. At that time the family moved into the town of Gate. Florence was often asked to help take care of the sick or the elderly. Florence helped people with canning and dressing chickens. She entertained her children by reading to them. Florence lived in Gate until 1957 when she, Bernice, Merle, and Nancy moved back to her childhood home to keep house for her father after her mother’s death. During the time she lived on the farm Florence raised her grandchildren Mike and Oleyta Wilson. In 1977 she went to live with her daughter Nancy Walter for about two years, and then she moved to Enid, Oklahoma where she lived until 1980, where Florence return to live in a farm house near Slapout, Oklahoma. Florence became the Curator of the Gateway Museum in 1988 and moved to Gate, Oklahoma, in 1990 so she did not have to drive back and forth to work. Florence enjoyed working with the “old” things and meeting people from all over the world who visited the museum. Due to Florence’s ill health she moved to Oklahoma City in November of 1998, to live with her daughter, Bernice Bogle. Florence was often complemented on her distinctive hair style, with people saying her hair reminded them of their grandmother because of the braid. After Florence hair became to thin to keep the braids across the top of her head, Florence cut her hair and sent an 18” length of hair to Locks of Love to be made into wigs for cancer patients. Florence’s activities beside caring for her family, included being active in the Gate and Enid Friends Churches, serving as President and Vice-President for the Oklahoma Prayer Bank Auxiliary of World Gospel Mission, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and helped people whenever she could. Florence's hobbies were working puzzles, quilting, and reading. Florence life was shaped by her faith in God. Florence accepted Christ into her life as the result of a vision she had of Hell. She spent a lot of time in prayer and loved to quote Scripture’s.
Florence is preceded in death by her parents, husband Roy, son David, daughter Irene, 5 brothers, 3 sisters, 1 grandson, 1 granddaughter, 2 great grandsons, and 1 great granddaughter.
Florence is survived by Edna and husband John Ringwald of Bucklin, Kansas, Roy Olen and wife June Whisenhunt of Englewood, Kansas, Bernice Faye and husband Mike Bogle of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Merle Allen and wife Faith Whisenhunt of Enid, Oklahoma, Nancy June and husband Mike Walter of San Angelo, Texas, Sisters Hazel Lois Smith of Slapout, Oklahoma, Audrey Fay Hink of Weatherford, Oklahoma, and Lela Alice Harrington of Buffalo, Oklahoma, 16 Grandchildren, 25 Great Grandchildren, 13 Great Great Grandchildren, 20 Nieces and 9 Nephews. Many relatives and a host of friends.
Funeral Services Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at the First Friends Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Funeral Services Thursday, December 30, 2010 at the Gates Friends Church, Gate, Oklahoma
Interment at the Gate Cemetery, Gate, Oklahoma