Florence Elenore Thoms, 104, of Sister Bay, went to her Heavenly Home with her family beside her on Friday, June 4, 2021.
She was born September 1, 1916 in Duluth, Minnesota, one of six Swedish-Norwegian children born to Carl Olaf and Marie (Gabrielson) Johnson. At age 11, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan. After graduating high school in the mid-1930s, she and her father worked at a truck plant, Kelsey Wheel, where she made rims for tires. During the war years, she worked for Boeing Aircraft Company in Washington state, counter-sinking rivets in the gunner’s turrets of war planes and earned the nickname “Florence the Riveter.” Later, she made M1941 Johnson Light machine guns and was an inspector for .50 caliber machine guns. After the World War II ended, she moved back to Michigan and engraved rubber dyes for printing information on cardboard boxes. On February 14, 1949, she married her boss, Helmuth Frederick Thoms, in Monroe, Michigan. They worked in the engraving business for many years to follow. In 1958, the couple moved to Phoenix, where they owned a silkscreen business while Florence raised their two children. In 1965, the family moved to West Covina, California and later Whittier, California, where Helmuth continued working in the rubber stamp engraving business. In 1968, a temporary move was made to Grand Rapids, Michigan and during a trip back to Wisconsin, they saw an engraving shop in Green Bay so they stopped in and were hired on the spot. They eventually built a home in Ephriam, where they frequently visited and retired there in the early 1980s. Together, they opened an art studio and featured each of their works. They were wed for 45 years until he preceded her in death in 1994. In 1998, she moved to the Good Samaritan Society-Scandia Village, where she lived until her passing. She enjoyed painting with coffee, paints, and watercolors.
Florence will be missed by her two children, Elenore (Dave) Sims and Howard (Pat Thomes) Thoms; stepdaughter, Suzanne Cesario; grandchildren, Amanda (Jay) Thoms Taylor, Rob (Debbie) Boothroyd, Danny Phillips, Mike Steiber, Ray Steiber, and Nanette Steiber; six great-grandchildren; two great great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Carl and Marie Johnson; husband, Helmuth; stepdaughter, Beverly Phillips; and five siblings.
Florence will be laid to rest with her husband in Blossomberg Cemetery on Monday, June 7, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Pastor Mark Billington of First Baptist Church will officiate.
Casperson Funeral Home of Sister Bay is assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Florence may be shared with her family through her tribute page at www.caspersonfuneralhome.com.
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