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Publication: Globe and Mail, The add link
Issue: 20 March 2008, page L6
Title: Lydia Florence (Flo) Serviss (Lives Lived)
Web Link: link

Lydia Florence (Flo) Serviss

Nurse, beloved aunt, devoted church worker. Born Nov. 18, 1902, near Brandon, Man. Died Nov. 25, 2007, of old age in Melfort, Sask., aged 105.


March 20, 2008

Flo was born in Wawanesa, Man., the second child of Isabella (Lowe) and James Serviss. She grew up north of Saskatoon with her six siblings.

After completing high school and teacher training in Saskatoon, Flo taught for a short time. Then she enrolled in nurse's training at Saskatoon City Hospital, graduating in 1929.

Flo was a natural nurse. She began her career in Melfort, Sask., where her family had settled, then moved to Smeaton to nurse in a Women's Missionary Society hospital. Later she became matron of the hospital in Wakaw.

Nurses in those days slept above the case room, if they got any sleep. They were responsible for all aspects of patients' care, from bedpans to housecleaning.

One time, Flo heard pounding and ran to the door to have a naked, wet newborn thrust into her hands. She also told of a woman being brought to hospital while hemorrhaging on a bale of hay in the back of a wagon. There was no telephone, so when the doctor was needed one of the nurses had to run down the road to get him. Patients paid their bills in firewood and garden produce, if they could afford to pay at all.

Flo moved back to Melfort, where she worked in a doctors' clinic and then a seniors' home until her retirement in 1967. She was hired privately as a nurse for several years after that.

Always busy, Flo enjoyed many hobbies: needlework, crafts, quilting and photography. She loved to travel and presented many slide shows of her trips.

Aunt Flo instigated the tradition of making quilts for each of her nieces when they married. We still treasure these keepsakes made from leftover fabric from all of our aunts' sewing boxes, and remember them quilting together over tea on winter afternoons.

Although she never married or had children, Flo had 27 nieces and nephews. She assisted some of them into the world and nursed others through critical illnesses. Helping to raise us all probably took years off her life.

A tireless worker for the United Church Women, Flo crafted many items for the annual bazaar and was involved in countless church projects. She was honoured with a life membership in the UCW. The words to hymns remained with her long after other things were forgotten.

Flo spent her later years as a resident of Parkland Place, where she had once worked. Despite her memory loss, she continued to keep others amused with her wit and her cheerfulness. "At my age, you live life one half-day at a time," she told family. It's a good lesson for all of us.

Heather Hanberg and Shirley Ann Serviss are Flo's nieces.