February 25, 2020
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Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN

OLD TOWN – Florence Ann Johanson Varner, 71, passed from this life quietly in her sleep Sunday, April 19, 2009, after a long bout with cancer at an Orono health care facility. Florence was born June 25, 1937, in Bangor, a daughter of Gust and Ethel (Olson) Johanson, both deceased. Her father, Gust, was born in Sweden and was an Old Town councilman and headed up Old Town Paper Mill for many years. Gust was educated in Sweden and had a degree in chemistry and loved working with the Boy Scouts. Ethel was born in Stillwater, Minn. She loved doing crossword puzzles and was a devoted mother and wife, and did a great deal of volunteer work with the Brownies. The family were longtime members of Old Town United Methodist Church. Florence Varner was named after her mother’s sister, Florence Olson, who is deceased. Florence V. has relatives in Minnesota, Washington state and Sweden. She had kept in close contact throughout the years with her cousin, Vera Maj Torby and her husband, Rune Johansson, who live in Sweden. Florence attended public schools in Old Town; the University of Maine, where she met the love of her life, Jim Varner; and graduated from Rider College in New Jersey with a Bachelor of Science in English and education. She loved music and had a lovely voice and was a talented piano player. She wrote many great songs and poems. Florence married Jim Varner, Sept. 11, 1958. This marriage of more than 50 years was blessed with three sons, James, Mark, and Carl; and a daughter, April Joy. James Charles Varner of California is a musician and has a daughter, Gabriel Varner. Mark Edward Varner of North Carolina is an electrician and has a daughter, Janea Varner. Carl Robert Varner of Virginia is an executive and is married to Carla and they have two daughters, Cheyenne and Elan; and a son, Miles. April Joy (Varner) Nanton of Connecticut is an executive and is married to husband, Frank Nanton and they have a daughter, Virginia Grace; son, Frank James Nanton; and a “son,” Eddie Simmons of Texas. Florence has three brothers-in-law, Eddie Varner and his wife, Lucille, and children, Eddie Jr. and Francine; Charles Varner and his wife, Wilhemina, and daughter, Kim; and Robert Varner, who is deceased, and his wife, Ann Varner, and son, Robert Varner II; and a sister-in-law, Dorothy Lowery and her husband, Neil, and their children, Larry, Bernadine, Steve and Rodney. Friends may call 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 23, at Birmingham Funeral Home, 438 Main St., Old Town. A funeral service will be conducted 10 a.m. Friday, April 24, at Old Town United Methodist Church, 744 Stillwater Ave., Old Town, with the Rev. Joan Desanctis officiating. There will also be a Quaker Service. Burial services will be after at Mount Hope Cemetery, Bangor. Memorial contributions may be made to the Maine Human Rights Coalition, Inc., 531 Brunswick St., Old Town, ME 04468 (tax exempt) or Greater Bangor Area NAACP, P.O. Box 415, Stockton Springs, ME 04981. Those who wish may visit an online memorial and life story or post a personal tribute through www.mem.com.

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