Florence Van-Leer (Smith) Cartwright was born May 23, 1932 in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Granville Physic and Florence Edith (Yager) Smith. Her father was career Navy, she and her mother traveled around the country and the world following her father from base to base. Her father was stationed in China right before World War II and they were part of the evacuation from China when the war began in the Pacific arena. Because of these travels, she attended many different schools. These experiences contributed to her friendly and outgoing personality.
She graduated from high school in 1950 from Center High School in Center, Missouri. From her childhood she always wanted to be a nurse. She began her training in this career and graduated from Washington University School of Nursing in 1953, earning her RN degree.
She met her future husband Dale Cartwright while she was in nurse’s training and he was in dental school. They married June 13, 1953. Florence worked as an RN at Barnes Hospital while Dale finished his senior year in dental school. They moved to Waco, Texas, in 1954 where Dr. Dale was stationed in the Air Force for two years. Florence worked as a surgical scrub nurse at a local hospital during that time. Their daughter Terry was born in Waco in 1956. That same year they moved to Cabool, Missouri, and Dr. Dale began his dental practice with his uncle, Dr. Homer Cartwright. In 1959 their son Jeff was born. She devoted her time to raising her children and providing a loving home.
Being her outgoing self, she became involved in many community organizations including Mother Advisor to the Cabool Chapter of Rainbow Girls, Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader and Arts and Crafts Club.
Florence was an integral part of the Cabool bloodmobile (Red Cross and Community Blood Center of the Ozarks) for over 60 years. She taught Red Cross first aid classes for six years and was awarded the Southwestern Bell Telephone Volunteer Award by the Greater Ozark Chapter of the American Red Cross in 1991. She was a board member of Community Blood Center of the Ozarks for 14 years and served as president 2001-2002. She was awarded the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
She served on Cabool School Board of Education six years. She was a member of Cabool Community Betterment for 15 years and was nominated for the Missouri Community Betterment Adult Leadership Award in 1987.
She was Mayor’s Youth Council sponsor seven years. In 1985 she was responsible for organizing the South-Central Leadership Conference sponsored by Mayor’s Youth Council, Cabool High School Student Council, and CHS National Honor Society for all schools within a 50-mile radius of Cabool.
Florence served on Cabool Housing Authority 32 years and was president for ten years.
She helped organize the Cabool Area Library League to build the new library in Cabool in 1986 and was also involved in building the addition to the library a few years ago. She was a board member of Texas County Library for 20 years.
She was a member of Cabool United Methodist Church since 1956 and served on the church board of trustees for nine years. She was a Sunday school teacher and sang in the church choir.
Florence loved to do crafts, knitting and needlepoint. She loved her pets and working with her plants and flowers. She enjoyed trips to and picnics at the farm. Florence enjoyed sitting around the kitchen table with family and friends reminiscing and laughing at funny stories from years past.
Florence was preceded in death by her parents, Granville Physic and Florence Edith (Yager) Smith; parents-in-law, Benjamin Asa and Sadie Victoria (Obert) Cartwright: and brothers-in-law Roland Cartwright and wife Marilyn, Lyle Cartwright and Bob Blackstock.
Florence is survived by her husband, Dale Jesteen Cartwright of the home; daughter, Teresa Lynn Cartwright of Cabool; son, Jeffry Dale Cartwright and wife Kathryn (Keeting) of Jacksonville Beach, Florida; grandchildren, Mary Kathryn and husband Piero Duello and Christopher Jeffry Cartwright; sisters-in-law, Elaine (Cartwright) Blackstock and Nancy Cartwright; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews who were like her children, loved family members and dear friends.
Public viewing will be from 12:00-5:00 p.m. Friday, March 26, 2021, at the funeral chapel. Private family graveside services will be held at Cabool Cemetery with Rev. Michael Blacksher officiating. Interment will be in Cabool Cemetery under the direction of Elliott-Gentry-Carder Funeral Home of Cabool. Online condolences may be made at www.egcfuneralhome.com.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Texas County Library-Cabool Branch, TCMH “Care for Your Future Building Fund” or to a charity of the donor’s choice c/o the funeral home.