Florence Littauer, an internationally renowned Christian speaker and author who championed messages of hope, encouragement and understanding, died July 11, 2020. She was 92.
Florence had been living with her daughter Marita and her husband in Lubbock, Texas, for the past two years. She was under hospice care at home following a stroke and heart attack.
In her 50 year career, Florence authored 40 books and addressed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and overseas. She was a dynamic and inspirational life coach long before the term became popular, weaving scripture and everyday stories into practical lessons. She used humor and a vast storehouse of anecdotes to underline her central theme that dreams can be achieved, and that one of the great rewards in life is to help others become the people God created them to be.
One of her favorite anecdotes turned into a book, and a powerful message, called Silver Boxes, the Gift of Encouragement. She was already an established speaker when she was recognized at a Sunday service by the pastor who spontaneously asked her to deliver the children’s sermon. The scripture that came into her head was Ephesians 4:29, a verse of encouragement that seemed too complicated for the children. As she unpacked the meaning—that words should be used like a gift—a little girl jumped up to face the congregation and said, “What she means is that our words should be like a little silver box with a bow on top.” That phrase became a calling card for Florence from then on.
Florence was born on April 27, 1928 in Newton, Massachusetts to Walter and Katie Chapman. Her father was a shopkeeper and part time writer and her mother was a homemaker. Florence was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Massachusetts, where she graduated with a degree in English. She returned home to teach English, speech, and drama at Haverhill High School and to help at the family store.
While counseling at a summer camp in Maine she met Fred Littauer, a New Yorker who was visiting his younger brother. After they announced their engagement, Florence’s drama students planned the wedding like a giant senior class play and, as a result, her wedding was featured in Life Magazine, May 18, 1953.
Fred was in the restaurant business and his early jobs took them to several locales. Daughter Lauren was born in Michigan, and when Fred started his own business the family moved to Connecticut where Marita, Frederick III and Laurence where born. Unfortunately, the boys, though perfect at birth, both had a genetic regressive brain disease. Freddie died in 1962 at age 2, and Larry died in 1981 at age 19. Life found new meaning when Florence and Fred later adopted a baby boy who they named Frederick Jeffrey.
The tragedies of her first two sons sent Florence into a deep depression. A search for answers brought the family to a vital Christian faith, and changed her life.
Fred and Florence moved the family to San Bernardino, California in 1967 to serve as staff at the then-headquarters for Campus Crusade for Christ. Fred was Director of Conference services. Florence began teaching women’s Bible studies. Together, the couple taught Sunday School and Bible studies.
Groups began to invite Florence to tell her life story and to share how she overcame depression. Then came more and more speaking engagements. Her first published book was her life story, I Could Be Happy, if Only… in 1978—which has since been revised and retitled four times.
Her best-selling book is Personality Plus, which has sold millions of copies and is translated into more than 25 languages. Florence used four personality types, based on Hippocrates’ theory, as a fun and accessible tool for understanding yourself and getting along with others.
In addition to her own speaking and writing ministry, Florence spent more than 30 years teaching communication skills. Thousands have been trained through the CLASSeminar (Christian Leaders, Authors & Speakers Seminar). Hundreds of authors have been, and are still being, published as a result of her leadership.
Fred, who ultimately joined Florence in full-time ministry died of a heart attack in 2002 while Florence was speaking at a writer’s conference. A bout of shingles forced Florence into retirement in 2010. She continued to live in their Cathedral City home until two years ago.
She is survived by her three children—Lauren and her husband James R. “Randy” Briggs of Redlands, CA, Marita and her husband Chuck Tedder in Lubbock, TX and Fred and his wife Kristy of Wildwod, MO—and five grandchildren—JR, Jonathan and Bryan Briggs, and Lianna and Jack Littauer and six great-grandchildren.
A private family remembrance/send-off party will be held in Lubbock, TX, July 18, 2020. She will be buried, in her trademark “Silver Box” dress, at Locust Grove Cemetery in Merrimac, MA—where her husband Fred and her mother and father are buried. Donations in her name, may be made to Lubbock Impact 2707 34th St., Lubbock, TX 79410 or the Redlands Bowl, 25 Grant Street, Redlands, CA 92373. For more information: https://thepersonalities.com/blog