On Dec. 1, 2014, at the age of 90, God sent his angels to escort Florence Pandora Vann Gilmore Hayes home from her labor.
Born in Chipley Dec. 8, 1923 to Archie and Martha Frison Vann, she was the only daughter in a household of five boys.
Her parents and four of her brothers, Archie Vann Jr., Ellis Vann, David Vann and Timothy Vann, preceded her in death.
She was reared in a Christian home, baptized and joined the Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church.
As a young child, Florence attended a small school in the Orange Hill community and continued her education at T. J. Roulhac High School until graduation in 1942. She graduated in 1946 with a Florida Normal Memorial School associate of arts degree in St. Augustine and began teaching seventh and eighth grades at T. J. Roulhac School. In 1948, Florence graduated from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University with a bachelor of science degree.
While teaching at Roulhac, Florence met and married Curley Gilmore, becoming the mother of his son, Jimmy Gilmore, and only daughter, Tonsiaweda Yvonne (Gilmore) Hayes. She joined Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church and sang in the Senior Choir. They remained married until Curley's death on Dec. 7, 1971.
Upon moving to Crestview in 1955, Florence continued a highly successful and influential teaching career at the Carver-Hill High School. As part of integration, she was transferred to Northwood Elementary School, where she remained until her retirement Dec. 31, 1982. She served a total of 36 years in the State of Florida educational system.
On Nov. 17, 1978, Florence married Samuel Hezekiah Hayes. She inherited two sons, Shannon Devon Hayes and Rev. Sanford Hayes; two daughters, Sandra Madison and Rev. Delta Outley.
In addition to touching lives in her teaching, she touched lives through her faithful Christian service at the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church under Rev. H. C. McCray, Jr. and current pastor Rev. Dwight Baggett.
She served on the Nurses' Guild, Baptist Training Union, as Senior Mission President, on the Deaconess Board and as Vacation Bible School Director. She was also active in the Progressive District of West Florida Baptist Association. She continued being active on the Deaconess Board and Senior Mission until her health hindered her attendance.
Florence loved transforming the lives of children and adults through her untiring dedicated community service and leadership in various community and civic affiliations. These included FAMU Alumni Association of Okaloosa County, Carver-Hill Memorial and Historical Society, Inc.; Okaloosa Retired Educators Association; Retired Senior Volunteer Program; Democratic Committeewoman, Precinct No. 12; Okaloosa County Sickle Cell Association charter member; Okaloosa County Family Outreach Program treasurer; Okaloosa County Council on Aging/Crestview Manor; OWJC Black Student Union; and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Celebration Grand Marshall.
She leaves to cherish her memories three daughters, Tonsiaweda Hayes (Sanford), Sandra Madison of Virginia Beach, Va. and Rev. Delta Outley of Columbus, Ga.; three sons, Shannon Devon (Ann) Hayes, Rev. Sanford (Tonsiaweda) Hayes and Jimmy (Natterlene) Gilmore of San Mateo; one brother George (Alma) Vann of Vernon; one sister-in-law, Amanda Lewis of Crestview; one brother-in-law, Deacon Clyde Hayes of Crestview; 18 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren; and a host of nephews, great-nephews, nieces, great-nieces, cousins, other relatives and friends.
It was Florence's love for Christ and His people, her commitment to His purpose for her life, and the strength he continued to give her that kept her "going strong."
Family visitation is 5-7 p.m. Dec. 7 at McKinnie Funeral Home, Crestview.
The viewing is 9-10 a.m. and the funeral service is 10 a.m. Dec. 8 at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, 603 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Crestview.
Interment follows at Orange Hill Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Chipley.
In lieu of flowers, charitable donations in Florence Hayes' memory may be made at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church or New Life Missionary Baptist Church, both in Crestview, or Abundant Life Full Gospel Outreach Church, 6001 Buena Vista Road, Columbus, GA 31907.The News Bulletin publishes North Okaloosa County residents and former residents' obituaries for $45 including a photo. Family members should write the 500-word announcements and funeral homes should submit them to the newspaper for confirmation. We may edit submissions for style. Call 850-682-6524 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.