“Flossie” gave up her valiant struggle with cancer on Nov. 10, 2015.
Born Florence Camille Pittman in Millen, Ga., on Oct. 2, 1923, Flossie was the eldest of four daughters. Her life, marked by hardship, achievement and the great love that comes with building a family, paralleled the American experience of the greatest generation in so many ways.
At the tender age of 7, the Great Depression took her father’s job as a railroad engineer and the family moved from Columbus, Ga., to Danville, Va., to be near other, more fortunate family members. As the economy improved in the coming years, the railroad hired her father back and they eventually returned to Columbus.
As she approached the end of her teenage years, WWII had begun and Florence soon ended her schooling at the local junior college she had attended with future President Jimmy Carter. The family all remembers her excitement when she attended her 1982 college class reunion that included a dance with the ex-president that remembered her from the day. Flossie left college in 1942 and went to work in administration for the dentist at the Fort Benning army base in her home town. It was there one evening, at an officer’s ball, she met a captain from Montana she was so struck with that that evening she told her mother she had met the man she wanted to marry. Florence married Arthur Donald Everson on June 12, 1943.
During the war years, the newlyweds were lucky enough to live together at the various stateside bases where Don trained the infantry soldiers to be sent overseas. Before the end of the war, Flossie gave birth to Bob and, when Don was discharged from the army, it was time to settle down. It was decided to give banking and farming a try, working alongside Don’s father in his tiny hometown of Reserve, located in the upper northeast corner of Montana. However, once the Georgia Peach fully experienced a winter in the plains of Montana that idea was quickly reexamined and the new family instead set their sights on Billings, “the banana belt of Montana,” as her husband so tactfully described it. In Billings, Don, having already obtained a degree in accounting from UCLA before the war, began his accounting practice from scratch. Soon after, their second son, Gary, was born and, as their boys grew over the years, so did the trailer camping and other outdoor adventures throughout Montana and Wyoming. Nearly a decade later, another son, Stan, arrived and later, on Flossie’s 40th birthday, Don bought “the cabin” on Rock Creek in the Beartooth Mountains, where weekends were spent. Even in the winter months, with no running water or central heat, Flossie was always there with her beloved husband and youngest, keeping the cabin fires burning and making many a meal on the old Monarch kitchen wood stove. In 1979, she lost her beloved husband to cancer and later married another wonderful man, Bud Burtness, and they shared many good times at the cabin and traveling together. Flossie remained in her longtime family home for two more years after Bud passed in 2010 and then enjoyed her remaining time in mostly good health among her friends at West Park Village with her three boys always only a few minutes away.
Flossie is survived by sons Bob (Robyn Geffre), Gary (Denise), Stan (Barbara Lombardy); ex- daughters-in-law Mary Vaughan and Sue Everson; son of Bud (Brad Burtness); granddaughters Leigh Blank (Logan and daughter Deirdre), Kendra Turner (Brian), Anna Krause (Andy), Jessie Chipman (Joel and son Warren) and grandson Dan.
The family would like to thank all the personnel at RiverStone Hospice for their tender care and also a thank-you to the many other caregivers who helped Flossie in the past months.
Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd.