Florence A. “Flossy” Keesely: Made a Difference in so Many Lives
Three weeks ago, I found myself penning my column on the loss of three people I admire.
Once again, here I am doing the same thing – this time it is about Florence A. Keesely, who died last week at 101.
Flossy, as we affectionately called her, lived a good and distinguished life. She was a longtime patron of the arts who gave of herself unselfishly to her community.
She loved the arts and spent decades sharing that appreciation with others, from the hospital hallways of New Rochelle, N.Y to the Count Adolph de Hoernle Amphitheater at Mizner Park, where her seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture stands.
I did not know Flossy well. However, the few times we saw each other, she made me feel very welcome and I quickly became fascinated with her genuine and kind spirit. We spoke several times by phone and it wasn’t long before I learned about her passion for the arts and how she sponsored several concerts and musical and theatrical performances for area students. I remembered being quite impressed a few years ago when – at 98 or so – she produced her fourth “Pathway to the Stars” musical program.
She was a pioneer and had a very impressive career in television. She was one of the first women to appear on daytime television as the co-host of TV’s first morning talk show on the old DuMont Network, NYC, on Sept. 19, 1948. (Her late husband, Nick, was involved in the production of radio and television programs in the 1940s on that same network).
Flossy used her talent and experience to help both the youth and seniors alike.
I learned how through her own charitable organization, Flossy’s Dream Foundation, she worked with one of the local Rotary Clubs to sponsor variety shows and award scholarships to young students in hopes they will pursue their dreams in the fields of vocal, dance and acting performance.
I loved it when she said she was motivated by giving the youth an opportunity to perform in front of an audience. She felt that with roughly 2,000 people in attendance at her shows, what better way for these young people to cut their teeth than in front of their hometown crowd. She invited seasoned entertainers such as international singing sensation Doug Crosley, Ziegfeld Dancers and Jan McArt, to name a few, and she had students share the stage with them.
Flossy’s philosophy was simply, even if they don’t become stars, there’s something about having an experience that they’ll never forget.
What an unselfish idea.
She is also credited with producing “Alive and Well,” a variety show geared toward senior citizens in Florida. The show features classic oldies and interviews with veteran entertainers and celebrities.
She was never one to speak of her accomplishments, which were many. She was always humble. In fact, she often said she lived her life by doing to others, as she would have them do to her.
“Give your best and respect others because we’re just a little grain of sand in the world,” she once told a reporter.
Somehow, whenever I think of Flossy, I am reminded of George Bailey in Frank Capra’s 1946 film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’
If Flossy had never been born, many people’s lives would have been very, very different. Thank you Flossy for the difference you have made in so many lives.