Vivian Florence was one of the original Calgarians born on April 23, 1926. She was the middle of three children of the Florence family, Sarah (Kopel) and Israel Florence with siblings Minnie and Leslie. They grew up during the depression but grew up happy together singing and harmonizing to the radio.
Vivian was an enthusiastic participant in the arts – engaging in dancing and singing with Minnie and others. She was a robust brunette with a hearty and infectious laugh. Vivian was a very determined woman who made her dreams come true. She worked hard and graduated with her nursing diploma working happily to help others. She had a soothing caring personality that made people feel warm and loved. Her patients knew that they were in great hands when she was their nurse.
She fell in love with Benny Katz, a handsome, but poor, young holocaust survivor and they married in 1950. They started their family and were loving parents to two sons and a daughter. After ten long years, they had saved enough money to bring Benny’s remaining family over to Canada from behind the iron curtain. Two uncles, two aunts and two cousins all lived with the Katz family of five squeezed into a two bedroom bungalow in Southwest Calgary. Vivian was the ultimate care giver looking after eleven people until they could get settled and helping her two European nieces fit into Calgary society.
She was the ultimate mother, aspiring for her children to have a higher education and wanting them to have as many experiences as possible. If she wasn’t driving her kids to swimming lessons, music lessons, tennis or scouts she was helping out with the Hadassah bazaar and any other community event that needed a helping hand. She was smart and prescient in that she insisted that all three kids take typing in high school, which turned out to be an invaluable skill in our technological world. She maintained a wonderful Jewish kosher home with the traditional values at a time when it wasn’t that easy to do. After the kids were grown, she resumed working by helping with babies. She loved her young ones. This was capped off by helping with her own grandchildren, Sarah and William.
She had her fair share of health related issues and challenges throughout her life time, resulting in sudden death at the early age of 63 on November 3, 1989. Her family and friends were devastated, but true to who she was, the funeral was held to overflowing attendance. A police escort was highlighted not only by the length of the entourage, but by the warm bright sunny day that reflected who she was. Unfortunately, she was denied seeing her grandchildren grow up and never lived to see her other two grandchildren who are named for her – Chaim and Stephanie Vivica.
In tribute to the woman she was, her family created the Vivian Katz Endowment Fund for Jewish Education. It reflects the person that she was – a lover of children, Jewish values, and education. The fund has been used for various purposes over the years including funding Israeli dancing lessons for Akiva students – which was a perfect blending of her love of dancing and children. She was a true Aishet Chayal. The image of this family Menorah is used on the beautiful tribute cards designed specifically for the Vivian Katz Fund. This lovely, musical Menorah was given to Vivian and Benny as a wedding gift in 1950 from her uncle and cousin. It is still used today by her children.
May her fund continue to grow and help others as she would have wanted.