November 2002

Florence Sodus -
Teacher, Singer, Actress, Traveler


by Joseph H. RADDER

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One would be hard-pressed to find a senior more active than Florence Sodus. She’s living proof that a person can stay forever young by remaining forever active.

Florence has been singing since the age of eight. “I never stopped singing,” she said. Her most recent musical theater activity was in the Kastle Productions cast of “George M” at the Lancaster Opera House. She is also doing “Viva Vivaldi” this fall with Ars Nova. Other shows Florence Sodus has appeared in include “Dear World” and “Titanic”.

A member of the Buffalo Choral Arts Society, she has also appeared in concerts at places like the State University of New York at Buffalo and Our Lady of Victory Basilica. “Singing under the dome,” she said, “is a very unique experience.” Sodus is also a member of the choir at St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church and she is one of the moderators for the Topics of Current Interest discussion group at the Amherst Center for Senior Services.

Florence has traveled the world, to sing, to teach and for pleasure. Her most recent trip was with husband Dennis to Spain. “We have enjoyed four cruises,” she said, “and I travel to New York each year to see shows and do Christmas shopping.” She spent a month in the Ukraine, teaching American English to Ukranian children for an organization called “Bridges to Education.”

A teacher by profession, Florence Sodus taught social studies and language arts in grades 6 through 10 at Maryvale High School from 1953 to 1992. She represented the western area of New York State, writing state examinations in Albany. Teaching was her great love. She said emphatically, “I consider it a real blessing that I taught my favorite subject, social studies, to my favorite students, mostly seventh and eighth graders. My colleagues at Maryvale were also a joy to work with.” Florence also enjoyed outdoor education, camping with 7th graders. She began her teaching career in Kenmore at the Washington School and then taught for seven years at the Brighton School. She took a bit of time off when her daughter was born and then resumed teaching at Maryvale where she would stay for thirty two years.

Memberships in the Maryvale Teachers Association, the PTA, New York State Teachers Association, the National Education Association, MENSA and the American Association of University Women are but a few on a long list of associations.

Florence graduated magna cum laude, second in her class, from Buff State in 1953. She earned a master’s degree in elementary education in 1959 and another in secondary social studies in 1969.

She was a member of the Sigma chapter of the Alpha Sigma Tau sorority at Buff State where she was named the top Tau in her senior year. A member of the Buffalo chapter for 49 years, she has served her sorority in a number of official capacities and committee chairmanships. This past two years she has been president of the AST Alumni Association.

Florence M. Kuczma married Dennis A. Sodus in 1956. They have two adult children, Mary Beth and David, and two grandchildren, Eric and Linda Lee. Dennis retired a few years ago from Conrail, where he was a general car foreman. The senior Soduses live in Amherst.

When asked about her childhood, Florence recalled a number of memories related to World War II. “I remember going to the ‘Smokes for Soldiers’ extravaganza with fireworks at Civic Stadium.” When she looked back on this she said “It boggles my mind, knowing what we know today about smoking, that we would go to something to raise money to supply cigarettes to soldiers.”

Florence went to grammar school at St. Adalbert’s on Buffalo’s east side, then to East High School. Recalling her days at East, she said “Some of the best teachers I ever had were my high school teachers.”

An only child, she has fond memories of her parents. “My father, Joseph Kuczma, was a tool and die maker and my mother, Cecelia Lange Kuczma, worked at Kobacker’s.”

Future plans? “I want to sing as long as I can. I hope to travel and see what I haven’t seen.”

When we asked Sodus about her feelings about Buffalo/Niagara she revealed that she is “Frustrated. There’s so much potential here. We could be doing so much better.” She thinks water and culture are the most important assets of living in western New York.

“When we read about droughts and shortages in other parts of the country we realize that water is a very important asset. Then comes culture,” she said. “The talent here is phenomenal. Buffalo is a cultural jewel.”

What’s the biggest negative? “Seeing our children go someplace else. It’s just too bad there aren’t enough good jobs for them here.” She doesn’t mind the weather, “In fact I like Buffalo winters. I love the area and always have. I’ve been to a lot of other places and I’m always happy to come back here.”

Advice to others? “Stay active as long as you can and stay with what you know and whom you know. Thank God every day for your old friends.”



Joseph H. Radder is a freelance writer.

 

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