Hastings honors late Florida B. Thomas in House chamber

CLEWISTON — The late Florida B. Thomas was honored in the nation’s Capitol building last week as U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings took the podium to issue a statement in her memory on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Madame Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and legacy of Mrs. Florida B. Thomas. Florida was a selfless member of her community and spent her life serving others. She was a woman of strong values and always worked to help her community through her church and her jobs as a teacher and librarian. …

“Throughout her career Florida was recognized again and again for her hard work and dedication to those around her. … And, just last year, she was honored with The Heritage Award for 2018. …

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janet B. Taylor
Former Hendry County Commissioner Janet B. Taylor (left) and Dr. Wilhelmina Lewis-Lyons, CEO of the Florida Community Health Centers, accept a framed copy of Rep. Hastings’ proclamation from Lale Mamaux, his right-hand aide.

“I extend my deepest condolences to her husband, Melvin, and the rest of her friends and family during this extremely difficult time. Florida Thomas was a blessing to our community and I am proud to honor her memory today. She will be dearly missed.”

Tributes from her community

Two of her former students at the Harlem Academy traveled to Washington, D.C., last week to visit Rep. Hastings’ office and staff and to pick up a framed copy of his statement for Mrs. Thomas’ survivors.

After former Hendry County Commissioner Janet B. Taylor and Dr. Wilhelmina Lyons-Lewis, CEO of Florida Community Health Centers had done so, Ms. Taylor posted a tribute on Facebook that prompted a chorus of tributes from the community. Chuck Pelham wrote: “So awesome! Incredible lady. Well deserved.”

Lurena Cobb responded: “What an honor for Mrs. Thomas. Thank you for helping to make this happen.”

Clewiston City Commissioner Kristine Petersen said: “Florida Thomas was a mentor to many of us!” (To which Ms. Taylor responded, “Amen.”)

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News/Janet B. Taylor
A closeup of the framed copy of Rep. Hastings’ proclamation from Lale Mamaux.

Tarance Midgett posted: “Thank you, Janet B. Taylor, for ensuring Mrs. Thomas’ achievements and selfless dedication over the years were ‘Recognized and Honored!’ Mrs. Florida Thomas, job well done; you will be truly missed!”

And, Howard Rick McKire Jr. capsulized her legacy: “Certainly Mrs. Thomas was a pillar in the Clewiston-Harlem community. Her roots will forever spill over in the lives of the past, present and future of those standing on the rich soil of this homestead. We attribute greatness through our lenses as we are able to see with our own eyes.

“Well, we have been blessed to see what it resembles and how it feels to everyone touched by its service and love to others. She was great, and her service and love for this community will always benefit (us) from the gift she left.

“Certainly, this is a congratulatory event. God gave us a gift through her life, and we will never be the same.”

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