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Florence Gaedeke

Florence Gaedeke was the first person from her English family to be born in America. She met her husband Bill while in high school at Blodgett Vocational where she studied business, and worked after classes in the factory that his father owned. A few years later, Bill proposed to Florence on Halloween night in Syracuse’s Burnet Park while they were taking in views of the city lights from the top of the hill.

Florence and Bill were self-proclaimed nature lovers and would spend hours sitting on the back deck of their Sherwood Farms home watching deer in their wooded yard, or enjoying the waters of the St. Lawrence on their boat. Florence loved cooking and baking. She and Bill would often spend Sunday afternoons in the kitchen preparing a pot of soup together.

Bill built a career in sales for General Electric and Florence worked at the telephone company for several years until their only son, Billy, was born. Tragically, Billy was killed in his early 30s in a motorcycle accident with his girlfriend. Bill died 11 years later in 1999, six months after he and Florence celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  

It is fitting that this close couple talked about their charitable intent, and chose the organizations which would benefit from their estate, together. With no living heirs, they knew that most of their estate would be used to support their charitable interests. Florence shared that what inspired her philanthropy was that she just wanted to help people. She commented many times that despite losing both her son and her husband, she had a good life and wanted to help others in whatever way she could.

Florence’s estate planning attorney suggested the Community Foundation as the permanent place for the charitable fund the couple planned for so carefully, and these intentions were included in her will. When Florence passed away last year at the age of 85, that charitable plan was put into action. It included a request that the fund be named in memory of her son. 

The Community Foundation makes an annual contribution in the fund’s name to the charities that the Gaedekes selected. These charities were chosen either because the organization addresses an issue which directly affected the Gaedeke family, or because of their sincere appreciation of the work the charity does to help people. These donations will continue for generations to come as a lasting reminder of Florence and Bill’s  generosity, and a lasting memorial to the son they lost too soon. 


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