Born in 1913 in Oakland, California, Florence was the third daughter of John and Maria Alfieris. This 1916 picture was taken in Oakland. Florence sits her father’s lap while her mother stands behind him. Her sister, Lula, is on the left. Her sister, Alice is on the right.
This 1926 photograph of Florence was taken in Oakland, California in a photographer’s studio. In the early 1900s many immigrant families dressed their children in ethnic costumes for have professional photographs taken.
Florence possessed a gregarious, outgoing personality. She was active in the Greek community and shared many friends with her sisters and brothers. When she was 17 Florence’s parents arranged her marriage to Peter Derdivanis of Fresno, California. The marriage took place on a hot Fresno day in 1931. Florence was exceedingly unhappy that day, even in tears, because she did not want to marry the man her parents chose for her. Pictured here from left to right: friend Athena Spiropoulos, (unknown), (unknown), sister Angie Alfieris, Florence Alfieris, sister Alice Alfieris, friend Vivian Spiropoulose, and sister Lula Zamenes.
This marriage produced two boys, John and Harry Derdivanis. When they were very young, Florence returned to Oakland with her sons to live with her parents. She claimed her husband had severely mistreated, and she refused to remain married to him. She learned to be a beautician and worked at her sister’s beauty shops for many years. All the years the boys were growing up, they visited their father frequently in Fresno and retained a relationship with him.
In 1945 Florence married Delius (Del) Newton, a Marine she met after WWII ended. He formed a deep bond with the entire Alfieris family. A year later Florence and Del had their son, David Newton. They bought a home in Oakland and lived there until Del died in 1976.
Del and the other men in the Alfiers family enjoyed fishing and shooting. They taught many boys in the family about these sports. John and Harry used to go duck hunting with their uncles. David learned all about guns as well as fishing. In 1966 he was cleaning a gun when a bullet lodged in the chamber fired and killed him while he was alone in the house. He was almost 20 years old. Florence and Del returned home to find him lying on his bedroom floor. This death devastated the entire family filling his parents with unconsolable grief for the rest of their lives.
Florence had a youthful outlook and was always active. This picture was taken in 1985 when she was 72 years old.
In the mid-1980s, Florence’s son, Harry, had to have a blood transfusion after an accident. Within a year, his health started to fail, and he soon found out he had contracted AIDS through the transfusion. For the next three years, he battled the disease bravely, participating in support groups and following a careful health regimen to get a handle on the disease. He reached his 60th birthday in 1993 and died two months later. He was survived by his wife, Vicky, who was also infected with the virus, and his daughter, Beth. Vicky survived the virus as newly discovered medications kept her relatively healthy in succeeding years. She overcame the major ravages of AIDS, thanks to these medications. Harry’s daughter, Beth, married in 1990; Harry and Florence are pictured here dancing at Beth’s wedding:
Florence was never the same after losing her husband and two sons. But she soldiered on, moved to another home on Broadway Terrace in Oakland and relied on the support and counsel of her remaining son, John. She remained at that home until she developed Alzheimer’s disease and had to go to a care center where she died at the age of 91 in 2004.