Wednesday, December 29, 2021
Floris was featured in this article published in The Chautauquan Daily in the summer of 2018:
Floris Dunn works this summer at the Afterwords Café on Bestor Plaza. She said she does what all the employees at the café do: “We cook, clean, wait on tables, handle the cash register, anything to make the place run smoothly.”
Colleagues and her supervisor say she’s terrific, never missing work and always upbeat. But life has not often been smooth for Dunn.
When she graduated from Jamestown High School five decades ago, Dunn began a career in retail at the old Bigelow’s Department Store on Third Street in downtown Jamestown. Dunn had already been through a lot, and much more was to come.
The second youngest of nine children, Dunn and her brother were sitting on their father’s lap as youngsters. He was reading to them — then he stopped. Something was wrong. He had suffered a heart attack and soon passed away. This tragedy triggered a passage for Dunn and her brother through two foster families.
One was in it for the county reimbursement, and the other family was Christian and caring. Dunn and her brother were adopted by her new family when she was 11 years old.
“My new mom was a retired teacher,” she said. “She used flashcards to teach us multiplication and division.”
At Bigelow’s in Jamestown, Dunn was an office worker, doing billing and filing. She moved to the Bon-Ton in Warren, Pennsylvania, and later worked for several years at the Jamestown Manufacturing Corporation, a maker of doors and other building features and materials. In the early 1990s, Dunn was taking business courses at Jamestown Business College, earning a medical office certificate. By this time, she was married and worked for a while in doctor’s offices.
For the past dozen years, Dunn has worked as a substitute paraprofessional in the local school system.
“That means I’m a teacher’s aide,” she said. “I like the little kids in elementary school best, maybe because I could not have children myself.”
She also serves as a private home health care aide, a job she does on her days off from Afterwords.
Last November, Dunn was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her doctor found a lump that proved to be growing aggressively, and there followed surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
“My friends were amazed that I didn’t get sick,” she said. “My strong faith in God keeps me on a positive course.”
She wears a wig or head covering at work.
“Mostly it’s only little kids who ask about it,” she said.
Dunn said she had visited the Institution perhaps five times while living in Jamestown for 40 years.
“When you add up the gate fees and parking, it’s kind of expensive,” she said.
Now that she has a gate pass, she is looking forward to attending the Frankie Valli concert at the end of the season.