When Marco Polo and Society of American Travel Writers chapter member — who died in her 90s in mid-October — made her usual dramatic entrance into an SATW gathering there was no need for a flare of trumpets or a butler’s announcement.
Her flamboyance in apparel, jewelry and commentary left no doubt about the new arrival’s identity.
Flo’s buoyant spirits and pithy remarks always enlivened any occasion and there are few SATW old timers without their favorite chapter of the Lemkowitz saga.
Past President and chapter member Paul Plawin remembered that at an SATW board meeting in Spain, Florence was indignant because women had to pay at the public toilets while men men could use their facilities without cost. She was outraged and railed that women had to “pay a peso for a pee.”
Past president Bill Hibbard’s favorite came from the SATW Board meeting in Budapest when the group was invited to dinner at the US Embassy where the Ambassador and his wife were waiting to greet the Board. The Ambassador seemed like a regular guy, but his wife appeared to be the aristocratic type. As Florence flounced up the steps in her typical swishy multicolored dress and long feathered boa, the wife’s nose seemed to go into the air. Florence was nonplussed and asked innocently: “Oh, am I underdressed?”
Longtime member Ginny Ade recalled an episode at a Panama night club when Flo was dancing with the then Shaw of Iran and her blouse caught on his military ribbons. Everyone had a good chuckle until they were untangled.
She was a master at working the system. In the 90s Andy and I invited her for a Freelance Council Carnival cruise with an overnight at a top flight Nassau hotel. Dissatisfied with her oceanfront room she made a single call resulting in a limousine transferring her to a designer suite at an ultra-exclusive Paradise Island resort.
Florence was the life of the party at every meeting. She will live on in memory as one of SATW’s most unforgettable characters.