December 28, 1922 - July 31, 2020
Florence G Hinchliff
Our beautiful mother passed away Friday July 31, 2020 in Portland at the age of 97 after a long and full life. She was a graceful and elegant presence in our lives and will be dearly missed. Florence was born in Sydney, Australia in 1922 to Thomas and Florence Gordon O’Brien, the youngest of 5 children: Olga, Edna, Nora, Tom, and Florence. She grew up in Australia in a world that was framed by the legacy of WWI and the Great Depression. Fortunately, Sydney was also a place of great creativity. Many artists, musicians and dancers were coming to Australia to escape the brewing war in Europe. Sydney was an exciting place of artistic innovation and the pursuit of beauty in design, art, and culture. Mom always encouraged us to be open-minded and to recognize the beauty of the human spirit and the world around us. This environment must have shaped these values. With the support of her mother and with much discipline and practice, she studied ballet and became an accomplished ballerina.
At the age of 17, Florence and her mother sailed to Hollywood to pursue dreams of a life in the theater. Soon after they arrived, the war in the Pacific broke out. It was too dangerous to go back to Australia, so, like other people at that time, they got busy helping with the war relief. One of the refugees Florence met was Igor Stravinsky, the composer. When we were children, we were mesmerized to hear her tell of the time she danced in his production of The Firebird at the Hollywood Bowl. What a life she had before us!
After the war, she moved to New York and became a fashion editor for Glamour Magazine. In 1952 she married John Hinchliff, a young English architect. Our father loved design, the natural world, and butterflies and together they created a loving, wonderful home. They settled in Portland and were happily married for 45 years until his death in 1998.
Florence lived another 22 years. She was an active volunteer in the community and served as president of the Women’s Architectural League, a member of the League of Women Voters, a founding member of St Bartholomew’s Church, Beaverton, and a docent of the Portland Art Museum.
She ultimately succumbed to dementia, but we were amazed to see how she still managed to express herself through art by painting portraits of friends in the memory care facility at Fieldstone at Cornell Landing. A portrait of one of her favorite caretakers, Rawaz (Alan), is attached. We are so grateful for the kind and attentive care she received there.
Among her many gifts, she enjoyed making connections and was always curious about people and their viewpoints. She was open-minded and loved creating welcoming spaces for people. At heart she was still the performing artist, thinking of others and setting the stage for a memorable encounter. She liked things to be simple, loved a good hot cup of tea in the afternoon and, we all agree, made the best cucumber sandwiches!
Florence is survived by her three daughters, Pamela, Melanie, and Rosalind and 8 grandchildren, 2 great-grandchildren as well as relatives in Australia and around the world. Services will be private.