Florence Ruth (Krueger) Oppliger
The heart of our family, Florence Ruth Oppliger, passed into the arms of the Lord on March 29, 2022 after a brief illness. Throughout her years, Florence was surrounded by a constellation of family and friends who loved her and she loved back. We will miss her intelligence, courage, curiosity, humor, and bright smile. She was a tough cookie and we are very sad to see her go.
Florence was born on November 9, 1930, to Carl and Laura Krueger in Harbor Beach, Michigan. She was baptized and confirmed at Zion Lutheran Church in Harbor Beach. Florence learned the value of hard work at a young age, hoeing beans, gathering eggs, and helping with the many chores that were all part of life on a farm.
Little did she know, when she left for Valparaiso University at age 15, that she would leave farm life forever. At Valpo, her world expanded to include writing for the campus newspaper and trips to Chicago where, after her first slice, pizza became one of her favorite foods. Soon Flossie met Ernie Oppliger, a farm boy from Lincoln, Kansas. Sparks flew as the two self-described “hayseeds” fell in love. Against the advice of her academic advisor and to Ernie’s dismay, Florence left Valpo to train at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Pittsburgh.
Their separation yielded daily lyrical love letters from Ernie to Florence, asking her opinion on television, and its place in the home, while using terms of endearment like “Schnuckel” and “Darling.” With a gift of $50 from her parents, Florence purchased seven yards of ivory satin fabric, buttons, and veiling and sewed her beautiful wedding dress on her mom’s peddle sewing machine. Their wedding day, June 16, 1951, was and remained one of the happiest days of her life. It also began 57 years of devoted marriage.
Now married, Florence Oppliger taught at the Lutheran School for the Deaf in Detroit. In 1957, Florence, Ernie, and their first three children moved to Port Huron, where Flo and Ernie remained for the rest of their lives. Eleanor, Karen, and David were followed by Douglas and Cynthia. Participation in a foreign student exchange program brought Martin Hess of Solothurn, Switzerland, creating a lifelong friendship with Florence and her family. It’s undeniable that the 14-year age span of her children contributed not only to the family’s exposure to a diverse range of viewpoints, but also underscored a philosophy that Florence embraced later in life: sometimes people you love have opinions that you don’t.
Florence loved Port Huron and embraced her community, finding joy in volunteering and leadership. Some of the organizations that benefitted from her time and talents over the decades include: The St. Clair County Lawyers’ Wives Club, Blue Water Garden Club, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Valparaiso University Guild, St. Clair County Bar Association Auxiliary, Mercy Hospital, and Blue Water Hospice. Florence’s interests were wide in scope as well. She particularly enjoyed the Lexington Bach Festival, the International Symphony Orchestra, and
Live at the Met opera performances. She was an exceptional Scrabble player who played very competitively, but who enjoyed those few times when her children or grandchildren would win a game. She was also a formidable bridge player, although none of her children are smart enough to play bridge. A recent discovery was WORDLE, which she slayed on a daily basis. Florence was a stylish dresser and voracious reader (or, in her later years, listener of audio books). An enthusiastic gardener, an avid golfer, and an elegant hostess, Florence always brought the life to the party.
Her exceptionally talented and charming children include Eleanor (Ralph) Banish, of Port Huron, MI; Karen (Richard) Widerynski, of Long Beach, CA; David (Kristine) Oppliger, of New York, NY: Douglas (Shawn) Oppliger, of Hancock, MI; and Cynthia (Tim) Baker, of Noblesville, IN. Her perfect grandchildren include Laura Abbasi, Stasia Widerynski, Karen Oppliger, Emily Oppliger (m. Brennan Wade), Ruth Oppliger (m. Sam Holmes), Eric Oppliger, Lucas Oppliger, Zachary Baker, Melissa Baker, and Elizabeth Baker. Thanks to Laura and Siddique Abbasi, Florence was blessed with three even more perfect great-grandchildren: Aamina, Elijah and Rayah. Florence is also survived by nieces, nephews, and many friends and neighbors who treated her like family.
Florence was preceded in death by her beloved husband the Hon. Ernest F. Oppliger, her younger sister, Alice Saunders, and her grandson, Jeffrey Banish.
A gathering and viewing will be held on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Smith Family Funeral Home-Hancock Street. Funeral services will be Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. with visitation beginning at 1:00 p.m. Those who wish to view the service remotely, may do so at 2:00 p.m. under the "Photos & Videos" tab on Florence's obituary page on the funeral home website. A party celebrating Florence’s life will follow the funeral service beginning at 4:00 p.m. at the Port Huron Golf Club. We look forward to sharing memories with those who loved her and toast to a life well lived A private interment will take place on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at Rock Falls Cemetery in Harbor Beach.
Florence’s passing leaves a huge hole in our hearts. In lieu of flowers, please take the time to
fill those holes with acts of love and kindness, as Florence so often did.
For information and guestbook, visit www.smithfamilyfuneralhome.com