Florence Ann Svestka, beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, passed away November 21, 2023 at the age of 101, leaving behind a legacy of love and cherished memories. She was born on August 9, 1922 in Chicago, IL to Anton and Mary Planing.
Before marrying, Florence spent 15 years working in the Import/Export department at Montgomery Ward’s headquarters in Chicago. She met her future husband, a farmer, Charles P. Svestka of Hazen, AR at Melody Mill big-band dance club where he was visiting an aunt and working during the winter in between planting and harvesting rice and soybeans. A long-distance romance ensued and he sent Florence an engagement ring in the mail. Before the marriage was on, she and her mother took a train trip to Hazen to check out where she would be living. Charles had told them that he lived in a “shack” on the farm. It wasn’t a shack after all and Florence’s mother gave the OK to proceed with the wedding.
Florence and Charles were married for 56 years. Most people might think she was a housewife or stay at home Mom, but she was an integral part of the farming business and still helped keep the books up until just a year ago. She also headed F.A. Svestka Trucking, a hauling and transport business of a couple 18-wheelers.
Florence was very active in the community, involved with Riceland Extension Homemakers’ Club including serving as President. She served as recorder for many years of Royal Neighbors of America. She was a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for decades. She was a two-time colon-cancer survivor.
One thing that Florence was quite proud of was winning the county fair blue ribbon for her “Broccoli and Rice Casserole” dish. This came as a surprise to many since she didn’t really cook. In fact, later in life, her kitchen had not one but two microwaves so she and Charles could heat their frozen dinners up simultaneously.
She was preceded in death by her parents and two sisters, husband Charles and son Carl Jeffrey Svestka. In this time of mourning, Florence will be dearly missed by her family and friends. She leaves behind children Vivian Leopold of Emory, TX, Carol Stallings (Andy) of Hazen, AR and Gregory Svestka of Baton Rouge, LA who will carry their mother’s love with them always and forever. She also leaves behind 6 grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and 2 great-great grandchildren and 3 nephews.
Florence was the glue that held the family together. She was heavily involved in her kids’ piano and dance lessons and other extracurricular activities including supporting their 4-H efforts as an adult leader. Her love for her children and extended family knew no bounds as she guided them through life with affection, wisdom and advice – some of it asked for, some of it not so much. She was an avid traveler and adventurer. The files she left behind documented vacations and trips starting and dating back to when she was only 7 years old. In the 1930s, her road trips by car took her through the devastation of the Dust Bowl. In the 1940s, there were multiple road trips of more than 5000 miles visiting multiple states which included taking the mule ride down into the Grand Canyon. She toured New England visiting historic covered bridges until she’d have enough of covered bridges and just remained in the back seat of the rental car. She snorkeled in Molokini crater off the coast of Maui, Hawaii and rode on the back of a motor scooter in Mykonos, Greece. Florence was in her 90s when she visited the last 4 states to complete seeing all 50 U.S. states. She loved to play the casino slot machines until walking became too difficult but enjoyed cards, dice, Scrabble and word find puzzles long afterward.
Special thanks and acknowledgments go out to her caregivers Cherelle Jackson and Paula Coburn and the staff at Chambers Nursing Home in Carlisle and Lonoke Health and Rehab Center. Also, a thank you to Kerry Longnecker, Virginia Lisko and Susan Lisko for bringing her the sacrament of communion to the nursing homes.
Services will be held at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Carlisle, AR Saturday, November 25. Rosary will begin at 10:00 a.m. with visitation at 10:20 a.m. until the funeral Mass at 11 a.m. Burial will be in the Czech National Cemetery south of Hazen, AR. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to St. Rose Catholic Church at P.O. Box M, Carlisle, AR 72024 or Czech National Cemetery, P.O. Box 298, Hazen, AR 72064.