Floriene (Sims) Holt, of Phoenix, Ariz., daughter of Homer B. Sims of Damascus and Sarah Jane Pierce of Morganton, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011. She was 97.
Floriene was born in Damascus. At the age of 5, she traveled by covered wagon with her parents and her brother Bowdre from Arkansas to live in Haskell, Okla. She attended Haskell Public Schools, graduating from high school at the age of 16, and then received an A.A. degree in music from Central College for Girls in Conway. In 1933 she received a B.S.E. degree from Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas).
She began her teaching career with the Haskell Public Schools, and in 1935, she was selected to be the music supervisor for the school system. During that time she took classes at Southeastern State College in Durant, Okla., and at the University of Oklahoma, completing her formal education with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1937 from the University of Tulsa. Throughout this period she was active in the Haskell Federated Music Club, serving a term as its president, and was selected as a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional honorary society for women educators. While she was teaching she met her beloved Hal, who came to Haskell in 1935 to teach business classes at Haskell High School. They were married in 1938. During World War II, Hal enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and shipped out to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Unwilling to sit out the war, Floriene joined several of her cousins in Santa Monica, Calif., where she was employed by Douglas Aircraft Company — initially in the factory welding bomb bay doors onto A-20 “Havoc” bombers, and later training office clerks.
After Hal returned from Hawaii, the couple settled in Phoenix and started a family. Floriene taught in the Washington Elementary School District and offered private piano lessons. She was well known for her participation and leadership at First United Methodist Church in Phoenix. Floriene gave freely of her time, supporting the music program, playing in the bell choir, teaching Sunday school, helping in the nursery, and serving many years as president and vice president of the United Methodist Women chapter. Back in the late 1930s, she was described by local newspapers as having “[an] enthusiastic personality ... musical talent ... patient disposition” with a “happy and pleasant manner.” Throughout her life she was always ready for work, and she was a shining example for everyone who knew her. She will be greatly missed.
Floriene is survived by her son, H. Darrell Holt and his wife Ruth, of Prescott, Ariz., and her son, H. Barry Holt and his wife Lucy, of Phoenix, Ariz., and Arlington, Va.; grandchildren, Carrie, Christopher, Stephen, William and David; and great-grandson, Stephen Angel.
Interment will take place at the National Memorial Cemetery in Phoenix.
A memorial service to celebrate Floriene’s life will be held for friends and family at First United Methodist Church, 5510 N. Central Avenue in Phoenix at 10 a.m. March 4.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the United Methodist Women of First United Methodist Church, 5510 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, Ariz., 85012.