OBITUARY

Florence Kirsch

January 16, 1929November 3, 2018
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On Saturday November 3, 2018 of Rockville, MD. Loving wife of the late John Kirsch. Devoted mother of Mary Maxner, Florence Sampson (Earl), John Robinson (Cedonna), Joseph Robinson (Sandra), Stephanie Kelchner (Tim), Laura Robinson, and the late Catherine Sears and Thomas Robinson Jr. Also survived by numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great great-grandchildren. Visitation will be held at Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home Silver Spring, MD on Sunday November 11, 2018 from 2-4pm and 6-8pm. Funeral services will be at St. Camillus Catholic Church of Silver Spring, MD Monday, November 12, 2018 at 11am with interment to follow at Cedar Hill Cemetery Suitland, MD. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Alzheimer’s Association National Capital Area.

  • FAMILY

  • Bruno Kotulski, Father
  • Anna (Kloczko) Kotulski, Mother
  • John Kirsch, Husband
  • Mary Maxner, Daughter
  • Florence Sampson, Daughter
  • Earl Sampson, Son-in-law
  • John Robinson, Son
  • Cedonna Robinson, Daughter-in-law
  • Joseph Robinson, Son
  • Sandra Robinson, Daughter-in-law
  • Stephanie Kelchner, Daughter
  • Tim Kelchner, Son-in-law
  • Laura Robinson, Daughter
  • Catherine Sears, Daughter
  • Thomas Robinson Jr., Son
  • Florence is also survived by numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great great-grandchildren.

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, November 11, 2018
  • Mass of Christian Burial Monday, November 12, 2018
REMEMBERING

Florence Kirsch

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Matt Kelchner

November 10, 2018

I wouldn't be the man I am today if it wasn't for my Nana. Growing up, there are countless memories where she showed me just how important family is, and that family wasn't limited to your relatives. Whether it was to put on one of the many family gatherings, babysit for the afternoon or even just helping me read my favorite dinosaur books, Nana was always there to lend a helping hand. Today, it is clear where my passion for cooking from scratch comes from (although I still have a ways to go to get close to Nana's level). Nana, may you rest in peace. You deserve it! You will certainly be missed.

Kay Padgett

November 10, 2018

Floence loved her family and everyone she met unconditionally. She had the special talent of making everyone feel special and welcomed at any time. I met her as a adult and was honored to be welcomed into her big wonderful family.
Her fun loving spirit fueled many parties and family gatherings. I still think of the tiny palm baskets she made and shared on Palm Sunday each year. Thanks for all the special memories! Love and condolences to all your family.

Cristian Bennett

November 10, 2018

So many fond memories of spending my summer vacations as a little boy, all throughout high school and even in the short time I lived there; Nana opened up her home and heart to me. She provided guidance, wisdom and love. I can never recall any given moment when there wasn’t a cake around that she baked. Miss you and love you. May you rest in eternal peace.

Liz Kelchner

November 10, 2018

I will always cherish the memories I have with my Nana! From growing up playing in the the creek in the front yard, rolling down that big hill, to the many family parties at Nana's house. I was always amazed when I went to Nana's house, thinking how in the world did she raise so many kids here, but her home was always filled with laughter, yummy food, and teddy bears! Coming home on from college on holiday breaks always included a trip to visit Nana. She would sing me a little jingle "Nothing could be be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning", and of course- remind me how much I look like my mother, when in fact we both looked so much like her! Nana will always hold a special place in my heart .<3

Mary (Robinson) Maxner

November 10, 2018

They say you can never go home again but, wherever my Mom was, would always be home to us and we could always go there. She had a love of life, a heart of gold, and an unlimited capacity for caring. We were very fortunate to have had her in our luves for as long as we did. I will miss her deeply and will remember all that she did for me. I love you Mom.

Nancy Whittington

November 8, 2018

Flo, you will always be in my childhood memories, since most of my teenage years were spent at your house hanging with Beanie, Cathy and Mary. Oh and I loved your Sunday morning breakfast, it was always the bomb, I never had seen so much food at a breakfast table and Making the girls clean their rooms before we could hang out . You will always be in my found memories. Rest in peace, you deserve it.

Cori Beckmann

November 7, 2018

I loved mom from the minute I met her. She was the sweetest, most loving mom role model I had in my younger years. She treated me as her own. Always had a smile and a kind word. Always welcoming me into the family. So much love filled that home. Last time I saw her was at her husbands service. She remembered me & told me she always thought I was pretty. Again, always a kind, loving word. I’ll cherish my memories of her and keep them in my heart. Love to the family...

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Flossy’s Story
Our mom Florence Ann was born in 1929 and was raised in a tiny house with seven siblings in a small coal mining town in northeast Pennsylvania. Yes, she was a coal miner’s daughter and proud of it. Her father was a Polish immigrant who spoke no English and her Polish mother only spoke enough English to get by. In her childhood home, Polska was the preferred language and throughout her life, she adored her Polish heritage.

It was a hard childhood but it was here where many of the principles that guided her throughout life were formed. During the post stock market crash and ensuing depression, our mom was taught that if there was enough room in the house and enough food on the table for her family, then there was enough food and room in the home for a hungry friend. If someone showed up at their door, they were never turned away. She never forgot that lesson and as an adult she would continue welcoming everyone into her home.

When Florence was only 16, her mother passed away unexpectedly and it changed the course of her life profoundly. She and her siblings were uprooted from their small town home and sent to live with various older family members around the country. Our mom was sent to Washington, DC, to live with an older sister.
The uprooting of her childhood family was the basis for her lifelong belief that above all else, a family’s bond should be unbreakable and that a family stays together. She found strength in this belief during many difficult times while raising us. This is why we are so tight knit and is why she often said “if one goes, we all go.”

Eight children, Cathy, Mary, her namesake Florence, Billy, the twins John and Joe, Stephanie and Laura. Eight grandchildren, Tiffany, Cris, Jason, Matt, Andrew, Elizabeth, Michelle and Jonathan. Three great grandchildren Jordan, CJ and James and two great, great grandchildren, Amelia and James. She was so very proud of each of us but she also taught us so much. She showed us incredible strength in the face of unspeakable adversity, that defeat was not an option and to always remember that “this too shall pass.” She taught us: to always give to others and show kindness to strangers. She stressed the importance of patriotism and reminded us often that we lived in the best country in the world. She gave us values and high moral standards from which to live by. She was an extremely hard worker and reinforced the belief that if we too worked hard enough, we could be or do anything we wanted to. And at the end of a hard day or week, she showed us how to enjoy life and how to really have a good time. But most importantly, she taught us to always be there for each other.
Her innate creativity nurtured our creativity. She crocheted, painted, worked in ceramics, drew in charcoal, pencil and pens. And she showed us how to throw epic parties! When it came to celebrating something, anything, our mother’s get togethers and parties were legendary. She adored getting people together. “The more the merrier,” she always said. She loved dancing and music, especially Polish music. We can still hear her signing “Beer Barrel Polka” followed by a “play it again, Johnny!” If there was a dance floor and any kind of music you knew she and her second husband John were on it. Together, they could really rip up a dance floor.

Holidays and patriotic days turned into epic gatherings. You never knew who would show up, friend, random family member, someone’s work colleague or neighbors or what would happen. Everyone was always welcome in that house in Knollwood. When you crossed our mother’s threshold, she made you feel immediately at home and at ease. And you knew it was going to be a good time!

Holidays were always extra special, filled with homemade bread, cakes and cookies. So much food that you might question how it all was able to fit in that house with all those people. Our mom was always making or baking something and always made from scratch. I can still taste her Polish desserts and cinnamon coconut bread. She refused to use a bread machine so you learned at an early age how to knead dough by hand. She was a tremendous cook who had zero professional training. She said she learned by trial and error. With a limited food budget, she had to learn quickly not to make many cooking mistakes. On the rare occasion there was a mistake or if you said you didn’t like something, well, we can still hear her saying “put ketchup on it and you’ll never know the difference.” That still makes us laugh. When we had a meal, we ALL had the meal together. We sat down at the table as a family. Mom was the anchor, we were along for the ride. She was far from perfect but she was very special.

During the holidays she created long standing traditions that made each holiday unique. Traditions that we still follow today. Things like passing the polish “oplatek” around the Christmas dinner table, black eyed peas on New Year’s Day and an Easter basket full of food items blessed by a Polish priest. Simple yet meaningful. When we were kids at Christmas, not much decorating would be done prior to the day but on Christmas morning, wow! we would awaken to a fully decorated house and tree with presents! She would tell us that Santa did everything while we were sleeping.

If it was a patriotic holiday, watch out, because our mother would have you dressed up in red, white and blue, carrying a U.S. flag and marching around the house singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “God bless America” or some other patriotic song. And if you didn’t know the words, well, she would have already made copies of the lyrics for every patriotic song imaginable so no one felt left out or could conveniently “tap out.” It wasn’t enough for her to make macaroni salad on July 4th and just call it “macaroni salad.” Nope, it had to be made with white pasta that she turned red, white and blue and renamed “Yankee Doodle Noodle Salad.” She loved this country more than anyone I’ve ever met and wasn’t afraid to show her pride. During WWll she would write to U.S. service members because her mother said that her letter might be the only letter that serviceman received.

She taught us the importance of living in a democracy and having the right to vote. As soon as you were old enough to vote, she got you registered and the question was never “are you going to vote?” Or even “who are you going to vote for?” The only question was “when are you going to vote?” She adored taking part in that civic duty and passed that love onto us. During one election years ago, a daughter made the mistake of saying she wasn’t sure if she would have time to vote and Mom replied “do you realize woman have ONLY had the right to vote for about 60 years?” It was a rhetorical question and yes, that daughter voted.

On birthdays, we were made to feel extra special with hand drawn birthday cards and a special baked good. She was always cooking and baking in that tiny kitchen. Fried chicken, huge pots of turkey and split pea soup and chili, polish sausage and sauerkraut, ribs. Always “a meat, vegetable and a starch,” she would say. You never knew what mom was whipping up in the kitchen on any given day but you always knew it was going to be good.

She loved living in the DC area. The power and significance of the city, the culture and all the opportunities it provided. She took us to museums, new exhibit openings and plays so we could experience live theatre. When the first Polish Pope, John Paul ll, made his inaugural visit to the US, yep we were there. As a devoted Catholic, oh how she loved the Polish Pope! And if she couldn’t take us to see something of significance in person, for example the moon landing, she made sure we watched it on tv, saying “this is history and you need to see it.” There were trips to Glen Echo Park, picnics at Sandy Point State Park and 7-11 for Slurpee's!

She loved reading and learning and always said “the more you learn, the more you realize how little you know.” In the pre computer era, our house was filled with tons of books and encyclopedia collections. She subscribed to two daily national newspapers, two local newspapers and multiple magazines. Our mom was not college educated but she was so well read that she could hold a conversation with anyone on pretty much any topic. She saw little kids and would say, they’ll know so much more than I’ll ever know and was truly excited by that. She loved technology and seeing the advancements as she aged.

It seemed like our mom could fix or do anything. If a lamp was broken, she would re-wire it. Who does that! If you wanted to dress up as something for Halloween, she would make it. She handmade so much for us. Everything from Christmas stockings to dresses and suits for her sisters’ wedding. She always made sure we had what we needed and with so many kids, at times, that was no easy task. If she made something, it may not have been in the color or style we may have wanted but now we can look back at that and laugh, while appreciating all the sacrifices she made to ensure we had what we needed in some shape or form.

A dear friend had this fond memory about our mom. She said “she was one of the few mom role models in my life when we were young, since mine was not one. I used to watch her at parties and think that’s what a real mom is supposed to be like. She always treated me like her own. There was always love and laughter in your home. That memory will always be in my heart.” Ours too.

She always put others first. If it was important to you and she didn’t have the means to make it happen, she would figure out a way to make it work and still make you feel very special. With an unexpected gesture, she could make a little kid’s dream come true.
Her Polish heritage came full circle when she and her childhood BFF made a pilgrimage to Poland. They toured the country but also marched in the Solidarity protests with Lech Walesa. She loved Poland and taught us to appreciate our Eastern Europe heritage too.

She was a proud notary and a long time federal employee, working for the Department of Defense. She was the National President of “FEW” (federally employeed women) and fought age discrimination, at work, when it wasn’t fashionable to do so.

When she retired from the federal government she continued living in the same house we grew up in before Alzheimer’s disease began robbing her of herself, her fondest memories and her abilities. What makes Alzheimer’s an especially vile disease is that you lose your mom twice. Once, to a progressive disease where she will eventually no longer know who you are and second, upon death.

But our mother’s strength, life lessons, traditions, celebrations, the family environment she created, the lives she touched, the way she treated others and everything she believed in and loved is what we all will remember most about her and it’s what we carry within us each and every day. For that, we are thankful and truly have been blessed. Keep baking and celebrating mom, “Kochamy Cie”.