Florence Marie (Gignac) Baron passed away peacefully in her sleep on December 7, 2022 at her home in Naples, Florida, in her hand a rosary. She was born on July 4, 1927 to Frederick and Zilpha (George) Gignac in Royal Oak, Michigan. Florence attended St. Mary High School in Royal Oak, graduating in 1945. She went on to work as a secretary at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There she met a college student, Joseph Baron, the love of her life. Florence and Joseph were married on June 19, 1954 at St. James Church in Ferndale, Michigan and made their home in Ann Arbor. While Joseph attended medical school at the University of Michigan, Florence stayed at home to raise their six children. She took on transcription jobs at home, provided childcare for other families in the neighborhood, and made ends meet creatively while managing to make a loving and warm home for family and friends. In 1968, the family moved to Flint, Michigan where Joseph interned at McLaren Hospital. In June, 1969, the family moved to Laurium, Michigan, where Dr. Baron set up his medical practice a year after the copper mines had closed. Florence was by his side for the entire 30 years of his medical practice, during many late-night phone calls, missed meals, and house calls. She always had a warm meal waiting for Dad when he returned, no matter what time. After raising their children, Florence went on to work at Dr. Joe's practice as a secretary, where she very much enjoyed working with his wonderful staff and patients. A cancer survivor, Florence went on to give back to the community as a member of the Calumet Public Hospital Auxiliary, serving as president for several years. She also served on the local Cancer Society Chapter. The couple retired to Naples, Florida in 2000.
Florence was a talented musician, beginning violin lessons at a young age. By the second grade she was placed in the St. Mary High School orchestra. She later studied with accomplished violinists, including a member of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Florence taught herself piano, always playing music “with feeling,” as her own mother would encourage. She could practically make the keys sing. Florence shared her love of music with her children and grandchildren and supported all of her children in their creative pursuits. She delighted her children and grandchildren with stories of her childhood. Florence’s generosity of spirit and sense of humor won the hearts of many.
Florence is survived by daughters Lorri (Rick) Oikarinen, Annette Baron (Pete Kahn), Evelyn (Steve) Sommerlot; son Joseph; daughter-in-law Mary Rastello Baron; brother, Thomas (Sue) Gignac; brother-in-law Thomas (the late Elaine) Baron; grandchildren Eric, Joel, and Kara Oikarinen; Madeline (Jessey) Poissant; Henry (Lauren) Baron; Mark, Andrew (Karina), Steve (Renee), and Laura Sommerlot; great grandsons Frederick, George, Louis Poissant, Theo, Tanner Sommerlot; nephew and godson James (Clemencia) Richmond, and grandniece Donnamarie Richmond; special friend Denise (Greg) Maronen; and other much-loved nephews, nieces, and close friends. Florence’s first great granddaughter (parents Andy and Karina Sommerlot) is due in February.
Florence was preceded in death by Joseph, her beloved husband of 62 years; daughter, Cecilia; son, Richard; sisters Dorothy Richmond, Margaret Shaughnessy; brothers Robert, Donald, George, and William Gignac.
Florence and Joseph were members of Sacred Heart Church in Calumet and Saint Peter the Apostle Church in Naples. When Florence could no longer attend church services, she participated in televised Mass every morning. Florence experienced great joy and tremendous challenges in her life. She found comfort, strength, and peace through her Catholic faith.
A Funeral Mass for Florence will be held at a later date in the summer at Sacred Heart Church with the Rev. Fr. Gracious Pulimoottil, MCBS officiating, followed by a private service at Lake View Cemetery. The Naples Funeral Home and Ryan Funeral Home in Calumet are assisting the family with arrangements. In lieu of other expressions of sympathy, the family suggests donations to the American Cancer Society or other charity of your choice.
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