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A little about Florence...

Florence Spanbauer began her teaching career in 1937 at West Alto School in Waupun. She then carried her skills to Gillingham School in Gillingham’s Corners, but ventured onward to Happy Hour School in the town of Menasha.

At the age of 22, Florence married the love of her life, Joe. But the year was 1939, and the world was about to change for the newlyweds. World War II uprooted lives everywhere, and Florence’s life was also altered. She found out that Joe, who had joined the Marine Corps, would be relocated to Linda Vista, Ca. for basic training. Not wanting to rest on her laurels, Florence moved to California to be with him – a move which eventually led her to become the governess to James Cagney’s children in Hollywood.

But when Joe was sent to the South Pacific, Florence supported the country in her own way. With teaching jobs lacking in Wisconsin, she used her talents at the Great Lakes District Procurement Section of the Army Engineers in Milwaukee. Florence was then transferred to Chicago where she worked as a legal librarian for the Army Corps of Engineers.

Finally Joe returned home from Tientsen, China in 1946 – after fighting for 3 ½ years in the South Pacific. The couple moved back home to Neenah and had two children: Steven J. Spanbauer and Susan L. Spanbauer. Unfortunately, Florence’s strength would again be tested again. When Susan was just one, and Steve, four, Joe died of brain cancer. Florence never remarried and raised the children on her own, instilling important values like kindness, generosity and strength, into their upbringing.

Florence’s own strength persevered. After Susan entered kindergarten, Florence went back to work, becoming a photographic home economist at American Can until 1965. She then reverted back to her passion for education at three Neenah schools: Clayton School, Taft School and finally, Lakeview School, where she retired from in 1979.  After her retirement, Florence continued to give to the community by volunteering at the historic Doty Cabin located in Neenah.


Florence was said to be an inspiration to all who knew and loved her – from those she taught, to single mothers today. Loving people unconditionally, Florence believed every student had something special to give. Perhaps some of you reading this were even privileged enough to know her personally. Her pioneer spirit is passed on to others through this scholarship.

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