Frank T. Florence Jr. Obituary
Baptist Soldier, Pastor & Missionary
Frank Florence Jr. spent 11 months in a German prisoner of war camp after he was captured in France during World War II, but he found an inventive way to let his wife and family know that he was alive and safe.
The news that her husband was a prisoner of war "was like a nightmare that wouldn't end," said his wife, Elizabeth Vater Florence -- until she received a hand-written postcard from her husband that contained hidden clues to his whereabouts.
The card simply said that he was alive and safe, but Elizabeth Florence noticed that some of the letters on the postcard were penciled in darker than others -- a secret code that the couple developed years earlier when they were childhood sweethearts.
When she wrote the letters out, they spelled "Kuestrin, a prison camp in eastern Germany near the Polish border. "That's how we knew where he was," she said. "I knew he was sending me a secret message."
After Russian troops liberated the camp, Florence and his fellow prisoners walked 1,500 miles through Poland and Russia to reach the port of Odessa and return home to their families. For his service, he was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star, among other medals.
The Rev. Florence, 82, died Saturday (2004) at Jewish Hospital in Shelbyville from complications relating to Alzheimer's disease. He was the pastor of First Baptist Church of Cold Spring from 1976 to 1982.
After he returned from the war, Frank Florence was a pastor in Kentucky for 45 years, and also spent three years in Colombia as a missionary before retiring in 1982.
He wrote two books, "Feet of Clay," which was based upon his experiences during the war, and "Hopeful, Back to These Hills," a memoir of his childhood.
Survivors in addition to his wife include a son, Terry Allen of English, Ind.; daughters, Linda French of Cox's Creek and Nancy Whitlock of Taylorsville; nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
[From Wikitree; scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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