Florence Littauer, the iconic Christian speaker and author who championed messages of hope, encouragement, and understanding, died July 11, 2020. She was 92.
In her 50-year career, Florence authored 40+ books and addressed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and overseas. John C. Maxwell, Leadership Author, Speaker, and Coach, called her a “true legend” and “a masterful communicator who spoke with dignity, humor and shared practical biblical truths.” He says: “I am saddened by her death but am grateful her work will live on. I am sure she heard the words ‘Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant’ as she entered Heaven’s gate.”
Her ministry began when she and her husband Fred (1929-2002) moved the family—Lauren, Marita, and Fred—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.
Groups began to invite Florence to tell her life story and to share how she overcame a severe depression that was the result of the death of her two boys who, though perfect at birth, both had a genetic regressive brain disease (In 1963, Florence and Fred adopted a son whom they named Frederick Jeffery Littauer). Invitations for more and more speaking engagements continued. In 1978, her first book was published—her life story, I Could Be Happy, if Only… It has since been revised and retitled four times, the final publication was Behind the Personality (Revell 2003).
Her best-selling book is Personality Plus, which has sold millions of copies and is translated into more than 25 languages. John Maxwell says: “Personality Plus was life changing for me.” Through Florence’s work, the four personality types—which is widely known as “The Personalities”, became a fun and accessible tool for understanding yourself and getting along with others. Maxwell continues: “Her work on The Personalities has saved relationships worldwide. I’ve shared the concepts and the popular Personality Profile with audiences everywhere and especially encouraged pastors to equip themselves with her teachings.”
“I was honored to work on Florence’s book, Personality Plus, which Revell published in 1983,” writes Bruce Barbour. “Through a few updates, this classic has been in print for more than 37 years and continues to help millions of readers better understand themselves and be difference makers at home, at work, and in their communities.” He remembers: “Florence was every publisher’s dream author: she was a relentless marketing machine and left every conversation with an encouraging word of appreciation for all we were doing to increase exposure and sales for her life-changing message. I join Florence’s family, friends, colleagues and fans in celebrating a life well-lived for this good and faithful servant of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Many people will remember Florence Littauer for her powerful presentation on Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement and her popular book by the same name (Thomas Nelson, 1989). Her masterful application of the Bible verse Ephesians 4:29 brought home the reality of the power our words have upon others and the effect we allow others’ words to have over our own lives. This important message has changed people’s lives by turning them into encouragers, and it has even been known to bring tears to the eyes of corporate CEOs.
Silver Boxes has been one of the most frequently repeated Focus on the Family broadcasts. In introducing it, Dr. James Dobson calls it a “timeless message” that will “challenge you to think about what you speak into the lives of those around you.” (Listen to this signature speech in the Free Resources section at ThePersonalities.com.) Addressing Florence Littauer specifically, Dobson offered this comment upon hearing of her death: “Florence Littauer was an accomplished author and loving counselor to millions of parents and married couples through the years. Someone sent me a recording of her speaking to a large audience, and I liked it so much that I aired it repeatedly on Focus on the Family. She was deeply loved within the Christian community.”
The Christian publishing world was greatly touched by Florence and her work. Literary agent Chip MacGregor called her “a giant.” He added: “Florence had an amazing impact on our industry—and think of all those authors and speakers who, as a result, went out and influenced others.”
One of her earlier publishers was Wayne Hastings, then with the publishing arm of Campus Crusade for Christ: Here’s Life Publishers. He remembers that it was “a tremendous privilege to publish books by Florence Littauer.” He continued: “Not only because of her dynamic personality and way with words but because what she wrote carried with it such meaning and life transformation for her reader.”
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. About this aspect of her ministry, Maxwell says: “She was a trailblazer and opened the door for thousands of women to develop their leadership and communication skills. Several times, I invited her to present her CLASSeminar in my church where she trained my staff, and others in Christian leadership, in speaking skills.”
Agreeing with Maxwell’s assessment, John Thurman, a speaker and author who was part of the CLASSeminar teaching team for many years, adds: “Florence Littauer was truly ahead of her time. She paved the way for Christian Women as authors and speakers. She was an awesome mentor and encourager for thousands of ministers as they sought ways to spread the Love of Christ. Her books and teaching on The Personalities have impacted, Lord only knows how many, millions of people. Our loss is heaven’s gain.”
Remembering attending the CLASSeminar, Hastings states: “When Florence asked me to attend the CLASSeminar, I witnessed first-hand her joy of helping people understand themselves and strive for excellence in what they did. Her CLASS events gave me, her publisher, an inside look at how people responded to Florence’s teaching and how much they appreciated her books. I’m grateful not merely as one of Florence’s publishers but also to have experienced personal change through her life and work. For me, she wasn’t merely an author, but a significant mentor and friend.”
Patsy Clairmont credits Florence with her success: “I met Florence 40 years ago when she took me under her tutelage and spoke truth into my broken life. She believed in me long before I had the courage to believe in myself. Her generosity of heart, her passion for learning, and her love of the privilege of platform work, made an indelible impression on my life. She was a dynamic mentor and dear friend.” Clairmont is one of the founding “Women of Faith” speakers and the author of numerous books—though regarding Littauer, Clairmont says she’s a “grateful student.”
“Florence was my dearest mentor,” offered Becky Tirabassi—author of many books including Let Prayer Change Your Life. “She taught me how to sparkle when I speak! She will always be the speakers’ guru and the woman who brought the power of Personality to life for women across America. What a legacy. I’m just one of many fans from life and eternity.”
Noted Bible study teacher Beth Moore says: “Florence’s CLASSeminar probably saved my speaking life. I am indebted to her forever. I love her so much.”
Reflecting on the impact Florence Littauer made on their lives, Bob Barnes, multi-published author and husband of Emilie Barnes (1938-2016), says that they “met Fred and Florence Littauer in 1975 and immediately became great friends!” Their ministries bonded them together. “Florence considered Emilie ‘her sister’ and the two shared a special bond in friendship and ministry. Florence was Emilie’s mentor and was instrumental in introducing Emilie to her publisher: Harvest House. Florence had a tremendous impact on the ministry of More Hours In My Day. Florence mentored many women over the years and was an incredible communicator.”
Another couple Florence mentored was Bill and Pam Farrel. Pam states: “Florence took me and Bill under her wing early in our writing and speaking career. Before our first book released, Pure Pleasure: Making Your MARRIAGE a Great Affair, we went through her amazing CLASSeminar. But she kept giving to us: tips to look better, speak better, connect better. She extended her platform and influence to us. She recommended us to many churches. She called us her spiritual kids. And Fred, gave my hubby so many tips on the privilege (and skills) of walking alongside a gifted (A.K.A. strong, driven Choleric) wife. We will always be grateful for Florence and Fred.”
At 82-years-old, Florence was still speaking, albeit with a scaled back schedule, and participating in the teaching of the CLASSeminar. Then a bad bout of Shingles retired her—though she continued to live in her own home and was basically independent.
Looking back on Florence’s life’s work, Barnes states: “She was an exceptional woman and led many women to the Lord. She was a great encourager, motivator, offered affirmation, and was a great friend to many. Florence truly was ‘one of a kind!’ She finished well and has earned her reward!”
Florence was never jealous of her protégés’ success. In fact, Carole Lewis, First Place 4 Health, Director Emeritus, wrote: “I heard her say that her greatest joy would be for one of her students to surpass whatever she did.”
Two-and-a-half years ago, Florence had a four-week hospitalization that started with an infection and ended with pneumonia. At that time, many thought the end was near. But she rallied—not to her former level of independence but enough that she could still have a nice life. After several months of 24/7 in home care, she was well enough to travel to Lubbock, Texas to move in with her daughter Marita (author of 20 books including Wired That Way [Revell, 2006]) so she could care for Florence. There, Florence enjoyed Marita’s cooking and care, and an active social life.
Even though, Florence was no longer engaged in professional ministry, she continued to make an impact. Dodie Osteen, Joel Osteen’s mother, sent Florence the following in a note: “I am so glad you bless people everywhere you go.”
Dorothy Patterson, Retired Professor of Theology in Women’s Studies, encouraged her sisters, daughters, staff, and women she mentored to attend the CLASSeminar—as she’d done. Though she remembers Florence as an “amazing and consistently superior communicator,” for more than three decades Patterson called her “my mentor and friend.” Patterson said: “far dearer to my heart than her professional excellence and entertaining presentations was the fact that she remained my true friend from the day we met until her translation to the heavenly court. After several years of no connection, she called me in January—just when I needed her—and we talked about family and friends and a myriad of topics and relived memories and blessings!” She adds: “I have known and learned from an amazing woman!”
Two weeks after her 92nd birthday—for which she enjoyed several parties, Florence suffered a stroke on May 17. Her daughter Lauren came to visit her and give Marita a break from the long hours by Florence’s bedside. On June 21, she had a heart attack. After 8 weeks of hospitalization—while there were many days that it seemed like Florence might make it, and one week of hospice care at home, her body wore out. Her son Fred was able to be with her to say “Goodbye”—and she seemed to know him and respond. The next day, July 11, 2020, she peacefully breathed her last breath.
Florence is survived by her three children—Lauren and her husband James R. “Randy” Briggs of Redlands, California, Marita and her husband Chuck Tedder in Lubbock, Texas, and Fred and his wife Kristy of Wildwod, Missouri—and five grandchildren: JR, Jonathan, and Bryan Briggs, and Lianna and Jack Littauer, and six great-grandchildren.
A private family remembrance/send-off party was held in Lubbock, Texas on July 18, 2020. You are invited to watch the moving service. 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.
In one of her good phases of the long hospitalization—when it looked like she might recover, Marita told her mother that she was amazing. She looked up and said: “I want to be amazing.” Marita asked her to say it again so she could capture it on video to send to her siblings. Florence looked into Marita’s phone and told Marita: “I want to be really amazing.”
Every life that Florence has touched, and there are too many to list here, would agree, Florence Littauer has lived a life that was really amazing!
Christine Sneeringer is a freelance writer studying theology at the University of Oxford in England. She attended the CLASS seminar in her hometown of Tampa, Florida in 2000. Since then she has spoken at numerous conferences and churches. She works as a tour guide in Oxford at The Kilns, the home of C.S. Lewis.
Author’s note: Many “amazing” quotes regarding Florence’s impact were received from Christian leaders, speakers, and authors upon the news of her passing—too many to include in this short piece. They have been posted, for all to enjoy, at ThePersonalites.com in the Blog section. Please check them out!