Life Story / Obituary
Florence “Flo” Settersten lived her life with simplicity, humility, and generosity. Deeply private, Flo had no desire for the limelight and preferred to contribute quietly to her family, workplace, and community. With a gentle spirit and quick wit, Flo afforded others a safe place to simply be. Revered by many, Flo will be deeply missed by those who were blessed to know her.
Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression, the power of hope undulated in the hearts of many. With a natural drive to not just endure but thrive in the face of uncertainty, the nation continued to put one foot in front of the other to build a better future. Nowhere was there more hope than in the Grand Rapids home of Lawrence and Donna Settersten as they welcomed their daughter Florence into their family on February 17, 1933.
Growing up at 24 John Ball Park NW, near the John Ball Zoo and Park, Flo’s childhood was rich in activity. Though naturally very shy, Flo enjoyed donning her pigtails, playing neighborhood sports, climbing trees and ice skating in the park, picking wild berries, and listening to the free concerts in the park--often from the family’s front porch. A favorite memory from her youth was getting to be a “bat girl” for the Grand Rapids Chicks, an all women baseball team in the All American Girls Pro Baseball League. A tomboy and a Campfire Girl, Flo preferred the company of a few close friends over being in a crowd; she possessed a quiet sense of self that served as a firm foundation for the rest of her life.
Lawrence’s work as the superintendent of mail for the post office and Donna’s work as a homemaker taught Flo first hand the importance of a strong work ethic and the need for organization. Growing up as the fourth of the Setterstens’ seven children Flo enjoyed a closeness with her sisters and brother that lasted her entire life. As kids they enjoyed swimming at Lincoln Park, visiting the cottage a Spring Lake, and playing in the neighborhood together. The family especially enjoyed their special Christmas Eve traditions which they continued in their adulthoods.
The family explored and celebrated their faith at St. James Catholic Church and the girls also attended Catholic school. Flo went to St. James for elementary school and attended West Catholic High School for ninth and tenth grades. As a junior Flo moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where she entered the convent at School Sisters of Notre Dame. After graduating from high school, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Mount Mary College in Milwaukee. Flo then continued her education at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where she took several graduate classes.
For many years Flo worked as an elementary teacher, a junior high teacher, and as a principal at several schools in Indiana and Michigan. Though Flo was deeply committed to the communities she served, in time, she came to know that her authentic path required a significant change. She left education and her religious order and returned to Grand Rapids.
Once home, one of her mother’s friend’s daughter who worked for Meijer helped Flo secure a job in the warehouse division. Flo settled in and quickly became a valued member of the team that started the Distribution Hotline. Flo proudly worked for Meijer for the next 33 years. During many of these years, Flo enjoyed playing on the Meijer Women’s softball team.
Flo naturally found joy in life’s simple pleasures. Crossword and word puzzles, playing solitaire, and watching football on TV were favorites. For many years she was a league bowler at Westgate Bowling Alley, and she was also known to enjoy visiting casinos. While Flo liked eating at Outback Steakhouse for special occasions, she much preferred the atmosphere of her local favorite, the Shawmut Inn. One of Flo’s greatest treasures was the prized walleye she caught. The trailer Flo purchased at Big Star Lake near Baldwin, MI was her sanctuary. It was here that Flo relished in the time to watch the deer and feed the birds she so loved. She especially enjoyed watching the magic of the hummingbirds that frequented her feeders.
With her warm smile, quick wit, and exceptional organizational skills, Flo served as a loving source of help for her sisters’ families. Flo knew just how to lighten a moment and her no fuss attitude often provided a sense of calm in the midst of life’s uncertainties. Having never married or had children, helping her nieces and nephews with their homework always proved a special treat for Flo.
Without a doubt, life feels less certain without Flo’s steadfast presence. May it afford deep comfort to know that with each moment we enjoy the splendor of a hummingbird, the majesty of a deer, or the good company of our loved ones we are living Flo’s humble legacy in our own lives.
Grand Rapids, MI
Aged 84, passed away on August 26, 2017. She was preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence and Donna Settersten, her brother Robert Settersten, sisters Agnes Warnke and Joan Bouwens. She is survived by her sisters, Sr. Helen Settersten (SSND), Mary Eiserloh and Patricia Butler, her nieces and nephews, Mary (Paul) Swidwa, Patrick (Sharon) Settersten, Kathy (Phil) Hawkins, Thomas Settersten, Craig Bouwens (John Bakun), Jeff Bouwens, Mike (Alicia) Bouwens, Peter Eiserloh, Mitzi (Gary) Stolicker, Karen Eiserloh, Paul Eiserloh (Richard Howell) Alex Eiserloh (Lou Granirer) and Lisa (Chuck) Schwallier, several grand nieces and nephews and great grand nieces and nephews. Cremation has taken place and a private memorial service will be held later. The family would like to thank the staff at Green Acres in Allendale, St. Ann’s Home and Emmanuel Hospice for the loving care given Flo over the last few months. Please visit Flo’s personal web page to learn more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.lifestorynet.com.