Florence Grace Borges died Friday, February 11, at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford. She was 94.
Born in Fall River on February 8, 1917, to Manuel Frank and Maria Theresa (Gomes dos Santos) Frank. She was one of eight children. Florence was not born on the Vineyard but was only eight months old when she arrived and always considered her beloved Island her home. Three years after graduating from the Tisbury High School she married Joseph C. Borges.
In her earlier years Florence apprenticed as a hair dresser, and then worked retail at Vineyard Dry Goods and Holmes Hole (where everyone shopped back then). She may also be remembered as the very personable store manager at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop when it was located on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. She was a welcoming presence and was delighted to help customers find a great bargain or relate a helpful bit of information.
Florence worked many years as a bookkeeper and retired after six years with Seven Gates Farm. She was past president of the American Legion Auxiliary Post #257. She could be seen on election days at the polls and served 20-plus years as a “Pink Lady” for both the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Nursing Department and Windemere, most notably.
Florence savored the Vineyard’s beauty and enjoyed each season, never caring to leave the Island other than to visit. Her interests were many and friends even more. She loved to walk the beaches, collecting sea glass from which she fashioned numerous glass jar lamps — a treasured memento for family and friends alike. She enjoyed cooking, especially sharing it with friends and neighbors. She made beach plum jelly from the plums she would gather when in season and another specialty was blueberry pudding prepared with carefully selected Island blueberries. She was a skilled and avid knitter, having presented her loved ones and special friends with her handmade creations. In her retirement years she played bridge on a regular basis, never tiring of the challenge of the game or the wonderful camaraderie.
Florence is survived by her two daughters, Jacklyn Dawley and her husband, Peter, of Oak Bluffs, and Joan Gonsalves of New Bedford; two sisters, Augustina Lamb of Southern Pines, N.C., and Constance Iadicicco of Oak Bluffs; and a brother, Theodore Frank of New Bedford. She was predeceased by her husband, Joseph C. Borges, who died in June of 1977 as well as by two brothers, Manuel Frank III and Francis Frank. Her grandchildren include Susan King of Edgartown, Scott Dawley and his wife, Sandra, of Oak Bluffs, and Jason Dawley and his wife, Emma, of Wakefield, R.I. She also leaves behind four great-grandchildren: Julia and Caroline King of Edgartown and Liam and Heather Dawley of Oak Bluffs; numerous nieces, nephews, and treasured friends, particularly Edward “Ted” Sullivan of New Bedford, who together with her daughter Joan were loving advocates and devoted caregivers in the last year of her life.
Florence could be seen with a smile for all she met, commonly sporting one of her colorful trademark scarves matching to perfection whatever outfit she was wearing. Then there was the thick white hair, glistening in the sunlight. A very bright light has been snuffed out and we fear her beloved Island will never be quite the same without her.
Florence was a lifelong communicant of St. Augustine’s Church in Vineyard Haven where a funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, April 30, at 11 am, officiated by Father Michael Nagel.
Donations may be made in her memory to the Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 399, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 (or online at vineyardnursing.org) or to an Island charity of one’s choice.