The Bruin Voice

Florence Rossman – O’Connor Woods


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O’Connor Woods resident Florence Rossmann was born on Dec. 6, 1919, in Tracy, California, where she lived until she was 15.

“[After that I] moved to Stockton, and I went to St. Mary’s High School for three years, graduated from there in ’38, and really enjoyed St. Mary’s,” Rossmann said.  “It’s really changed since I went.”

After high school, Rossmann went to modeling school.

“My dad wanted me to go to college,” Rossmann said.  “I had no desire to go to college, and I went to San Francisco, to a modeling school… [where] we were taught things like how to wear makeup, how to walk…, how to dress.”

Rossmann recalls her teacher offering her a modeling opportunity — something risque on a beach — that she is now even more glad she had not taken.

“[I] would have been dancing on the beach [in a chiffon, without a bathing suit],” Rossmann said.  “I said, if it’s something nude I wouldn’t be into that…. I hadn’t thought about that in a while until all of this came out about women coming forward [about sexual harassment and assault] and I thought, that could have been me.”

After modeling school, Rossmann went to work in the Stockton Unified School District.

“I started in 1956, and when I retired in ’82 I was the head of the free lunch program,” Rossmann said.  “There were people who cheated with that and I had to be the bad guy.”

Rossmann hopes teenagers appreciate what they have — especially the love of their parents and their families — but isn’t sure her advice will be followed.

“Teenagers don’t pay any attention to you nowadays,” Rossmann said.  “You can give them advice but it goes in one ear and out the other.”

Other things, too, are different now than when Rossmann was younger.

“The way the kids dress nowadays is so much different from the way we dressed,” Rossmann said.  “We had to dress properly, to put it mildly.  We did not have cars, [but] now every school we go to, the parking lot is filled with students’ cars.”

Rossmann’s favorite memories involve her husband and her three children.

“When I met [my husband], he was a Stockton city fireman,” Rossmann said.  “He was a captain in the fire department [and] loved the first department…. When he was on the fire department that was his life, plus his family….  Once [my children] were born, everything was fine.”

Rossman’s worst memories, however, also involve her children.

“I had three children — one girl, two boys — and I lost both of my sons.  The youngest one was 33 and he was killed in an accident and the other one was 51 and he died of a heart attack.  That was the worst thing in my life.”

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Florence Rossman – O’Connor Woods