Florence Helen Strange of Petaluma led a varied life that included teaching as a Catholic nun, researching tropical fruit in far-flung countries and leading Sunday school at a Unitarian Universalist church in Petaluma — but underlying it all was a life-long love of learning and education.
The longtime Petaluma resident died Oct. 9, two days after having a stroke during a trip to San Diego. She was 85.
Strange's love of learning was born when she was just a girl, attending Holy Rosary Elementary School in Medford, Wis., the town where she was born in 1928. She developed a respect for the nuns who taught her and decided to join the convent and become a teacher.
She did so at 16, eventually becoming a nun and earning a master's degree in education.
She taught several ages of children in elementary schools in
Then, in 1969, after studying the Catholic faith and considering her core values, she decided to no longer be a nun, resigned from the School Sisters of St. Francis and moved to San Francisco, where her brother lived.
Four years later, she met David Strange at a line dancing class in San Francisco.
“I remember seeing her across the room and thinking, 'There's a lady I'd like to know better,'