Florence Mary Smith Bruder died Sept. 2 wrapped in dignity and grace, with which she lived her 85 years. She died peacefully at home on Martha’s Vineyard with her daughters and caregivers by her side. Those who knew her were truly blessed.
Florence was born Nov. 15, 1926, in Newark, N.J., the only child of Florence Fitzsimmons Smith and Judge Joseph Lyndon Smith. She was in the first graduating class of Marylawn of the Oranges Academy, which her father helped to establish in 1935. She graduated Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., in 1948 with a B.A. in English Literature. In 1955, Florence married Andrew Joseph Bruder of Jersey City. They moved to the Jersey Shore where they raised their five children while living in Red Bank and Rumson. Florence later moved to Fair Haven, N.J.
A lifelong poet and writer, gifted with a great sense of humor, Florence became a journalist. She once said that her grandfather, James Smith Jr., U.S. Senator (D-NJ) from 1883 to 1899, set the stage for her interests in politics and journalism. Sen. Smith was a businessman whose holdings included banking, leather manufacturing, real estate (a swampy tract of land where the Meadowlands sits today), and newspapers; the Northern Star and the Evening Star, predecessors to The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Florence was a reporter for the Red Bank Register (The Daily Register) in the late 1960s, at a time when women rarely attempted the balance of career and family. A loyal Democrat active in local organizations, Florence was a member of the Junior League, Holy Cross School PTA, and worked for the March of Dimes, all in Monmouth County. For 38 years, she belonged to the recovery community, where she helped and inspired many men and women while maintaining her own sense of humility and serenity. She loved all of nature, a good conversation and her family.
In 2004, Florence moved from Fair Haven to Martha’s Vineyard, near her daughter, MJ, who provided joyful, loving care, and a warm and welcoming home for all to enjoy while visiting. Florence lived one day at a time, and was buoyed by a strong and enduring faith.
Florence was predeceased by her parents; her beloved son, A.J.; and her former husband, Andy. She is survived by daughters, MJ Bruder Munafo and her husband, Paul of Vineyard Haven; Liz Bruder Frydman and her husband, Ken of New York, N.Y., and Sharon, Conn.; Susannah Bruder of San Francisco; Isabelle Bruder Smith and her husband, Tom of Colchester, Conn.; granddaughters, Koran Munafo and Jenik Munafo Khelalfa and her husband, Hocine; grandsons, Benjamin Andrew (Beau) Frydman; Andrew Akash Smith; five great-grandchildren including her precious girls, Malika and Leela Khelalfa; 50 nieces and nephews; three cousins, five sisters in law, one brother in law, and her constant companion, her cat, Queenie Priscilla.
Her funeral mass was celebrated at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Oak Bluffs. Florence Mary is interred with her family at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, East Orange, N.J. A lively reception for her large New Jersey family and many friends, was held at the Junior League of Monmouth County in Rumson, N.J.
Donations in Florence’s memory may be made to Vineyard Nursing Association, P.O. Box 399, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568 or to Island Elderly Housing Inc., 60B Village Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.