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Local News

Joliet woman served with her hands, heart and singing voice

Former activities aide at Joliet nursing home also sang in church and for veterans

Florence Pazulinec
Florence Pazulinec

JOLIET – Florence Pazulinec of Joliet was the life of the party, according to her son-in-law, Terry Snyder of Joliet.

That meant, Terry said, that Florence was cheerful and conversational, always diverting the attention away from her and to the other person.

“I think people gravitate toward that,” Terry said.

Such an attitude made Florence a natural at her role as an activities aide at Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet, Terry said. It also contributed to her dedicated involvement with the ladies auxiliary at VFW Cantigny Post 367 in Joliet, and First and Santa Cruz Lutheran Church, also in Joliet.

Karen Sobero, administrator at Sunny Hill Nursing Home in Joliet, said Florence was popular among the residents.

“She was always cheerful and sunshine,” Karen said, “and she was very pretty.”

In fact, Terry said Florence was the first winner of the first Ms. Illinois Senior Citizen pageant in 1984. But Florence’s prettiness didn’t end with her looks. She had a beautiful singing voice, which Florence used in the service of both the VFW and her church.

If Florence had an opportunity to sing, Terry said, she took it.

“She was in the choir at First Lutheran Church, and she sang at most of the funerals for veterans,” Terry said. “She sang at Sunny Hill, and she sang a couple of times at Abraham Lincoln cemetery.”

Terry wasn’t certain what started his mother-in-law’s dedication to the VFW, but he did say Florence’s first husband, Lawrence Tyda (deceased), was a U.S. Army veteran and her second husband, Robert Pazulinec (deceased), had served in the U.S. Navy.

He thinks perhaps their commitment inspired Florence’s.

“She had her auxiliary blue uniform with her ribbons and medals,” Terry said. “She was very proud of that.”

Sunny Hill once had its own kiln, Terry said, so Florence, when she was the activities aide in the 1980s, led residents in various ceramics projects. Florence also drove the activities bus and loved taking residents for ice cream or to familiar places they cherished due to good memories, such as the flowing well at Pilcher Park in Joliet.

“During the holidays, she would take them through the neighborhoods to see the lights,” Terry said.

For the last few years of her life, Florence – who was 90 when she died Sept. 15 – lived at Sunny Hill where her popularity, dedication and joyous spirit once again reigned. She was elected president of the resident’s council twice, Terry said, and loved participating in sing-alongs.

Florence even “coached” the current activities’ aides.

“She’d tell them, ‘You don’t do things the way we used to do them,’ ” Terry said.

• To feature someone in “An Extraordinary Life,” contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-280-4122 or

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