Joe Floren: 1929 – 2017 Longtime Orcas Resident Passes in Oregon

— from the West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship —

Anne Hay and Joe Floren, 2016

Myron David (“Joe”) Floren died on December 31, 2017 at his home in Clackamas, of natural causes.

Painting a life requires an appropriate palette. For Joe Floren, that palette would be varied yet harmonious, and its pigments would be applied with brush strokes that are both understated and confident.

Joe was a writer and editor, an artist, a cartoonist, a photographer, a teacher, an avid hiker and backpacker, a musician, a carpenter, a husband, a father, and a grandfather. A strong, gentle man who rarely raised his voice, he loved eating ice cream, telling funny stories, playing the guitar, and keeping his woodpile fully stocked.

Joe was born in Oregon City on April 7, 1929, to Everett and Hulda (Carlson) Floren. A brother, Donald, followed two years later. The subdued hues of the Great Depression permeate those early years, as the young family lived for a time with the Floren grandparents on their farm near Carver. Once the financial picture improved, they moved to northeast Portland. Joe graduated from Jefferson High School in 1947, and then attended Reed College. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Oregon.

Splashes of primary colors highlight the growth of a new family. In 1950, Joe married Marjorie Frieland Daum. A daughter was born in 1952. The family lived briefly in John Day, with Joe working as writer and editor for the Blue Mountain Eagle, and then returned to western Oregon when he was hired by the Hillsboro Argus. Four more daughters were born in Hillsboro, and the family moved to Portland in 1967.

The black and white of the printed word flow through the decades. In 1961, Joe was hired to manage the communications department at Tektronix. His award-winning annual reports led to requests for classes based on his no-nonsense approach to effective business communication. He developed his own consulting business and taught classes for businesses and government agencies nationwide.

Joe’s love of nature appears in vibrant greens and rich earth tones that give serenity to his canvas. The Floren daughters grew up hiking, camping, and — once the youngest, at four, was old enough to carry a pack — backpacking in the Columbia Gorge and on the Olympic peninsula. Joe also transplanted hundreds of trees and shrubs as he sculpted natural landscapes into the yards of his successive homes.

Strands of richly saturated hues show his lifelong passion for painting and photography. He was instrumental in creating an annual art fair at the West Hills Unitarian Fellowship, which the family joined in the early 1960s. Late in his life, his art would return to the Fellowship one final time when he and his daughter Gillian had a joint painting and photography show there in 2015.

Joe and Marjorie eventually divorced. In 1979, he married Olga Ferdinandus, and the two moved to Waldport. Joe continued his consulting work, wrote several books on effective writing, kept painting, and planted more trees, ferns, and rhododendrons. Somber tones then intrude with Olga’s death due to complications from breast cancer in 1998.

In 2000, a mutual friend introduced Joe to Anne Mount Hay, and the two married a few months later. They lived on Orcas Island, Washington, until 2016. He actively pursued photography during his years on Orcas, and donated his talents to support music and the arts, low-income housing, and nature preservation.

He is survived by his wife, Anne Hay, his brother, Don (Diane) Floren, his five daughters, Terese (Marcia), Brooke Ann (LB Day), Gillian (Greg Swanson), Celia Heron, and Marcia (Martin) Waugh, their mother, Marjorie Columbus, grandchildren Augie, Kaola Beth, Emma, Keegan, Cameron, James, and Riley; by Kimberly Heron and Fred Williams, and by stepchildren Joel Hay, Jennie Woo, and Alan Hay, and their families.

A celebration of Joe’s life will be held at the West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Saturday, April 7, at 2 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Joe’s memory be made to the Natural Resources Defense Council, OPAL Community Land Trust (Orcas Island), or a local food pantry.

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Joe Floren: 1929 – 2017 Longtime Orcas Resident Passes in Oregon — 4 Comments

  1. Such a lovely gentleman and so talented. I was glad to know Joe and Anne. I treasure a few wonderful photographs he took of my dear mother Mary in her last years. He saw and captured her sparkle. His work in photography was exceptional, generous, full of love and insight. He is most fondly remembered by our Orcas community.

  2. Oh, Joe. I miss your gentle humor and constant smile; your willingness to talk writing, to advise about photography–and I’m glad we finally did get together for that morning of photography, taking photos of your favorite: April’s pasture..
    You taught me a lot, and most of it not about photography or writing, but about how to live. The world is less without your presence.
    My condolences to Anne and Joe’s family…

  3. Anne, so sorry to hear this news, I so clearly remember when you and Joe got married. He and you have been missed here on the island.

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