Obituary of Mrs. Florence Caroline Treadwell Hosbein (Mom, Tutu, Flo, Fo, Lady Hosbein)
Mrs. Florence Caroline Treadwell Hosbein (Mom, Tutu, Flo, Fo, Lady Hosbein) died at her home in Grass Valley, CA on Saturday, December 15th, 2018 surrounded by family and friends. She was 87 years old, and is survived by her older sister, Elizabeth Wray, her two daughters, Lisa Hosbein Mackenzie (Dan), and Anna Hosbein de Aliaga (Carlos), and her three sons Tim Hosbein (Katherine), David Hosbein (Susannah), and John Hosbein (Eileen).
Florence was born in Honolulu, HI, on the 28th of August 1931, the youngest child of Dr. Richard Talmage Treadwell, MD, and Mrs. Constance Geraldine Bryant Treadwell. Growing up on the Big Island in the early 1930’s was an adventure in island living, and self- sufficiency. While Hawi (pronounced Havi) was a thriving sugar cane processing town, the Hawaiian Islands were remote, and reached primarily by ship, not modern day aircraft. Florence and her older siblings, Dick and Beth, had to entertain themselves, and they especially enjoyed trips (by boat) to beautiful Waialea Bay where her father had renovated a fishing shack into a rustic, beach paradise he called Lalamilo (shoot of the Milo tree).
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 prompted RT to move his family back to the mainland, and they settled in the town of San Luis Obispo on the central coast of California. Florence’s education had begun with home-schooling in Hawaii, but in California she attended public schools, and for High School attended the Katherine Branson School in Ross (Marin County) as a boarder. After graduating in 1949, her studies took her back east to Smith College in Northampton, MA, then back to Stanford University in Palo Alto for her junior year, and concluded in 1953 with her Bachelor of Arts from Smith.
A talented sportswoman, and an adventurer at heart, Florence was also eager to see the world. Small town life had nurtured a burning desire in her to see and experience the greatest cultural cities in the world, and having studied French in college she decided to try her luck in Paris. She found work with several different fashion employers, and while honing her sense of style she also developed her academic French into full fluency. Being in Europe also offered the opportunity to explore Italy and other European nations, as well as ski in the Alps. On a ski trip to St Anton, Austria she met a dashing American Air Force Officer with something of a rebellious streak which suited her, Dr. James Hosbein. As the story goes, after a day of skiing there was a night of aperitifs in which Jim assisted the bartender, somehow managing to lose his socks, and Florence assisted him in locating both his socks, his hotel, and his heart. Their romance continued to grow, blossoming into true love, and the two were married in Oxford, England in November of 1957.
Florence and Jim moved back to the US and lived in New York and New Jersey while Jim completed his surgical training at Columbia University. Jim’s residency then took them to the Basset Hospital in Cooperstown, New York, where Florence started their family, beginning with Lisa in 1959, the twins in 1961, and Anna in 1962. After a few winters in Cooperstown they moved west to California in 1963, and eventually settled in a beautiful Victorian house on Main Street in Grass Valley. Furnishing and refurbishing the house soon became one of Florence’s enduring passions, and she began tracking down antique, Victorian furniture and heirlooms. To complete the family, the final son, John, was born in 1969, and his presence helped keep both Florence and Jim young and vibrant. While somehow managing to keep her rambunctious children from damaging the house, she also created a stately, beautiful home which could have been mistaken for an English manor, despite the fact that it was in the Gold Rush foothills of Northern California.
Another major passion of Florence’s life were athletic endeavors, including skiing and golf, but especially tennis. Although a petite woman, she was a wonderful competitor with the strength and quickness of an elite athlete. Whether in singles, doubles, or mixed doubles, she excelled on the tennis court, and of the various trophies around the house, most were hers (although you would never know it from her demure and soft-spoken style). When the winters brought snow to the Sierras, Florence and Jim snapped on their skis and taught their children how to carve turns down the Silver Belt at Sugar Bowl, or around Shirley Lake at the top of Squaw Valley. In any conditions, Florence confidently slalomed her way down the piste with grace and style.
Florence also developed a keen interest in Historic Preservation, and preserving some of the beautiful historic buildings in Grass Valley and Nevada City became one of her missions. In particular, she spearheaded the preservation and renovation of the Sisters of Mercy Convent, and the attached Saint Joseph’s Chapel. Even in her eighties she was actively raising money to repair the stained-glass windows, and helped oversee the transition of the property into the St Joseph’s Cultural Center. The fact that the buildings and garden remain today as a State of California Historic Landmark, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is largely due to Flo’s tireless efforts.
In the last two decades of her life, Florence was above all a loving and devoted grandmother to her nine grandchildren: the eldest, Eduardo (27) and Elahdio (25) Aliaga; Olivia (22) and Sophie (20) Hosbein; Ian (20), Grace (18), and Nolan (15) Hosbein; and the youngest Hayden (13) and Ella (11) Hosbein. She never forgot birthday notes, presents and best wishes, and maintained the long tradition she started with Jim of always phoning to sing “Happy Birthday”. Although her athletic endeavors were hindered during the last decade of her life by the onset of Parkinson’s disease, the lack of mobility which this caused never dampened her spirits. She and Jim would still enjoy canoeing together on various local lakes, and she became a daredevil on her electric scooter. Hooking the red wagon to the back of
Tutu’s (Hawaiian for “Grandmother”) scooter for excursions to Scotia Pines and Condon Park was one of Hayden’s and Ella’s favorite adventures when they visited her in Grass Valley.
Florence lived her whole life with energy and determination, and she shared her passion and enthusiasm with all who knew her. She cared both about the past and the present, for she wanted to hold and cherish those things in the past which embodied both goodness and greatness, that they might enrich the present. We have all been blessed by her presence, and while we mourn her passing, we will follow her lead, and in remembering her life we will enrich our own.
A Memorial Mass honoring the life of Mrs. Florence Hosbein will be held on Saturday, May 25th, 2019 at 1:00pm at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Grass Valley. A reception will follow in the historic gardens of St. Joseph’s Cultural Center Chapel, 410 S Church St. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Historic Mt. St. Mary’s Preservation Committee.
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