Friends will always remember “Mellow Tunes with Flo''

Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:11 p.m.

Until a week ago, the jazzy tunes of Florence “Flo” Ruth Boltansky's piano filled the halls almost daily at Jasmine Pointe inside The Village, a local retirement community.


A memorial service for Florence “Flo'' Ruth Boltansky will be held Friday at 10 a.m. inside the Temple B'nai Israel, 3830 NW 16th Blvd.

Now, the music has stopped, but the memory lives on. Boltansky, a 91-year-old self-taught pianist, died Monday from natural causes at Shands at the University of Florida.

“You meet what we call key players,” said Andrae Ware, the program coordinator at Jasmine Pointe. “The key player is someone who brings everyone together, and her playing did that.”

She took pride in her spot on the weekly entertainment calendar, Ware said, and her regular concerts for the 67 residents became known as “Mellow Tunes with Flo.”

“It was like a medicine,” Ware said. “Whatever ailments the residents had — mental, physical or spiritual — her music would help them because it would take them back to wherever they first heard the song.”

Boltansky kept a list of songs on her all the time, folded and tucked away into a pocket. Ware estimates the list held about 125 songs. However, she could play nearly any song just by hearing the first few notes. If she was not familiar with a song, Boltansky just asked the person requesting it to sing a couple of notes.

“It seemed like her music abilities had no limits,” Ware said. Boltansky was able to play jazz, ragtime, soul and classical music.

Though there were days when Boltansky didn't feel like playing, she found her way to the piano until the very end, eventually requiring a wheelchair to make it to the common room. But her fingers were always nimble, said Elaine Golman, Boltansky's daughter.

As a child, Golman remembers the house being filled with her mother's three loves: music, baking and her family. Boltansky is survived by her son, Bernard Spiegal; daughters Sandra Albeg and Elaine Golman; 10 grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

Before moving to The Village, Boltansky played gigs in lounges, hotels, clubs and synagogues peppered throughout Florida and Boston, where the Boltansky family lived until 1967.

Golman believes her mother started playing on a family piano at 4 years old. After Boltansky started her own family, she acquired a parlor grand piano, on which she would pass down her love of music.

“We had a very cultured upbringing,” said Golman, who started taking piano lessons at The New England School Conservatory when she was about 3 years old.

In addition to raising her children and pursuing her love of music, Boltansky had a varied work life, involving time as a restaurateur, a baker and an account executive for a large camera company.

“My mother was a very special lady,” Golman said. “I think she could charm anyone, and not by putting on airs, just by the way she was.”

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