It is with bittersweet sadness that we announce Florence Mary Rodriguez, age 49 of Clarksville, Tennessee, claimed her rightful place amongst angels in the evening of Friday, May 27th, 2022, surrounded by warmth and love. Born to CSM Larry and Yolanda Rodriguez, Florence blessed the world with her presence at 11:20 am on June 22nd, 1972 at University of California Hospital in Los Angeles, California.
Florence, also known as Mary, was everything that everyone uses to describe their mother: kind, caring, generous, intelligent, supportive, beautiful, funny…the list is endless. She was also playful and serious, anxious and lax, sensitive and stoic, intuitive and vulnerable. She could be the storm and the rainbow that shines after. She was human.
A proud Army brat, she used to reminisce about how much she enjoyed living in Germany as a child and how excited she’d get when her grandma would make chilaquiles. A regal beauty, she won first runner-up in the Miss Northeast El Paso pageant. In the 90s, you’d probably find her listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers on the boardwalk at Virginia Beach or at Busch Gardens waiting in line with her daughter to ride “Alpengeist”. The eldest of four, Florence enjoyed telling stories about shenanigans she and her siblings would get into when they were young, including, but not limited to, getting too close to fireworks, bumping N.W.A. out of her cassette player, throwing things at beehives, collecting Caboodles, getting pinched during Mass, doing the “Roger Rabbit” like Rosie, etc. Even as an adult, she could be mischievous at times, but those are stories for another day.
Florence was incredibly proud of both her academic and military career. In 1987, she attended Woodbrook Junior High in Tacoma, Washington where she played varsity volleyball, varsity basketball, softball, and orchestra. From there she went on to attend Andress High School in El Paso, Texas where she was involved in orchestra. In 1990, she was part of the 1st Battalion, D Company, 2nd Platoon based in Fort Knox. In 1992, she entered the Navy and made a career as an absolute badass HM1 Advanced Medical Laboratory Technician at Boone Branch Medical Clinic in Virginia. During her Navy career, Florence also attended Field Medical Service School for Fleet Marine Force and Fleet Hospital Training. Her 12 years serving this country awarded her several achievements including the Navy and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation. In 2007, Florence graduated from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, earning herself a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration.
Florence was never scared to try something new. In 2002, she critically injured her right shoulder while trying to ride a dirtbike for the first time. This accident put a wrench in her military career; however, like the beast she was, she adapted to this hurdle and went on to pursue a career at Workforce Essentials where she specialized in assisting people in gaining employment, helping others obtain training and education as well as spearheading the drug and alcohol testing department.
If you look up “extrovert” in the dictionary, you’ll see Florence’s picture next to it. While she was quite the social butterfly, she took great comfort in crafts like drawing mandalas, crocheting scarves for her family, making paracord rescue bracelets, and coloring adult coloring books. She loved to exercise her brain by way of puzzle books, crosswords, and Stephen King novels. This woman craved knowledge and embraced curiosity. Florence definitely should’ve owned stock in Chanel No.5 and Burberry as those were her signature scents. She loved having long phone calls with her mom, getting comfort from her dad, coffee and bingo dates with her sisters, quoting movies with her brother, supporting and guiding her nieces and nephews, completing to-do lists with her son-in-law, spoiling her kitties, and making memories with her daughters.
If you ever crossed paths with her in public, she was probably on her way to Starbucks or the nail salon in her silver ragtop convertible “Gemini” blaring either Stevie Wonder, Missy Elliot, Elton John, or the Beastie Boys. If you wanted to annoy her, all you had to do was slap your gum or not change the toilet paper roll. If you wanted her to fall into a food coma, bring her a steak and a lobster tail. If you wanted her to laugh her butt off, put her in a room with her siblings. If you wanted her to cringe, put too much salt on your food. If you wanted to distract her, throw her something shiny. If you wanted her to show her gorgeous smile that she was so proud of, compliment her. If you wanted to make her proud, just be a good person. If you wanted to get closer to God, try bugging her while she’s hangry.
Florence was a romantic whose guilty pleasure was watching Turner Classic Movies, Disney movies, and pretty much any movies that make her cry. She was a hardcore jewelry enthusiast. From cubic zirconia to real diamonds, she loved them all. She might have even worn a Ring Pop for fun if you gave it to her. She was also a huge animal lover, specifically gentle giants like elephants and dolphins. Yes, she was a Cat Lady. She spent her fair share of time trying to make her cats, Bunny and Blitzkrieg, wear sailor and clown costumes. Her favorite color was blue, but definitely not baby blue. Her spirit animal was an elephant during the week, but a kitty on the weekends. She was a beach kind of gal. Florence literally enjoyed pina coladas and long walks on the beach. Getting caught in rain, though? Not so much. She wanted to travel just so she could be a “foodie”. Nobody made chorizo and Spanish rice like her. Her shrimp fettuccine alfredo was God tier. Not too long ago, Florence earned her motorcycle license. Memes always made her laugh. One time she even got to run her hand through Trent Reznor’s hair at a NIN concert! She hated lima beans and huge beards. More than anything, though, she genuinely loved to spend time with her family. The world needs to know not only who she was but also the many ways she will live through us until we are reunited once again.
She was a proud American. A Latina. An Army brat. A Veteran. An empath. A pillar of strength, courage, and resilience.
She is a daughter, mother, sister, niece, cousin, and a tia.
While her time here was short, the world is now better for having had her in it.
I love you mama.
Florence is welcomed in Heaven by her grandma Tina; fur-baby, Lil’ Cat and grand fur-baby, Frosty.
Left to cherish her memory are her parents, CSM Larry and Yolanda Rodriguez; daughters, Sophia (Warren) Rodriguez, Olivia, Isabela, and Aurora; sisters, Christina Poeppel and Yolanda (Chuck) Weaser; brother, Juan Rodriguez; nieces, Mariana, Graciela, and Selena; nephews, Adrian, Isaac, Christian, Dominique, Gabriel, Julian, and Santino; a host of family and friends; fur-babies, Bunny and Blitzkrieg; and grand fur-babies, Vega, Booty, and Falcor.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to an animal shelter of your choice. She would have loved that.