Many of us are blessed by special friends in our lives, persons who have led and inspired us. Flora Sedgwick comes readily to mind. My husband John and I met her in 1989 when she and Grant moved to Covenant Manor (now Covenant Village). From the start we shared a love of literature, laughter, and faith.
Flora taught at Minnehaha Academy in the 1960s, and had become more than a teacher in the lives of many of her students, forming bonds that lasted the rest of her life. Many of them attended the Memorial Service held in her honor this January, and it was very meaningful for me as they recounted fond memories of Flora's impact on their lives. Several recalled the inspiration that seemed to be woven into her teaching, and without exception they remembered her love of Guy Fawkes Day, a festival celebrated with good humor as an appendage to the established curriculum.
In its Spring 2006 issue, The Arrow, published by Minnehaha Academy, contains a tribute to Flora, which appropriately closes with these lines: "All who knew her remember her as a faithful friend, a woman with a steady glisten of humor in her eye, a dedicated teacher, a loving mother and wife, and a good Christian who knew what it meant to be a steward who took care of the gifts and opportunities she had in her life."
John and I cherished our friendship with Flora and Grant, and we especially remember having "walked through the valley" with them when their precious daughter Priscilla died. Then in 2001 Flora walked alone with us, following the death of Grant. She was resilient, and bore her grief while trusting in God's love, and yet was not afraid to repeat with feeling "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief."
Always the teacher, Flora helped start two book groups. One consisted of five couples who read poetry and short stories chosen by Flora for our study together. The second group was (and is) a melding of nine women from various careers who have met for 17 years. The 14 books Flora chose for our study were challenging, as was she. Examples include Pride and Prejudice, Crime and Punishment, Madame Bovary, and others in a list that has since grown to more than 140 books. Not too bad for an octogenarian group and, in a real way, it is a tribute to the "founder!"
Flora loved poetry, and one of her favorites was read beautifully by her daughter Sara during the Memorial Service. It is entitled “God’s Grandeur” by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and reads in part: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God… because the Holy Ghost over the bent world broods with warm breast and with…Ah! bright wings.” The voice was Sara’s, but the flawless delivery personified Flora. We thank God for sending us those “bright wings.”