The first lady of flowers

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Deloris St Louis has much to celebrate, but the modest lady keeps most of her accomplishments hidden behind a gentle smile.

Fifty years ago, this past January, she opened Florette Flowers out of her home on Breeze Street and she's still running the show. Though her 85th birthday is this month, she has no plans to retire.

"I love this work with all my heart," she said.

It would seem appropriate for her to slow down, but her son, Jerry Adamek, said that his mom does not understand the concept of not working, most likely because she grew up in the Depression.

"If she can work, she feels she should work," he explained.

And work she will, because the gratification she gets from it is endless.

"I have a heart for (the people I work with), especially when they lose someone. Even worse, when they lose a child. It drags you to pieces sometimes. It just wipes you out.

"Any time you reach out to anyone there has to be something sweet about it. Somehow people need to say they're sorry, so I don't think there's a day that we don't take part of that," she said.

St. Louis moved to Craig in 1937, and worked day and night at local flower shops while raising her two sons. When one store went out of business and she found a big house near downtown Craig, she took advantage of the situation and combined her home and work. The front entrance is a storefront, but the basement has all the workrooms and refrigerators where flowers are kept.

"It was hard going for a little while getting used to everything and getting the family all settled," she recalled. But looking back she is proud to say Florette Flowers is strictly a family business.

The key to happiness and success, are the caring relationships she built with the Craig community, she said.

Long before Florette Flowers opened, St Louis became friends with an older lady at her church. When her friend needed a nice outfit for a party, St. Louis recommended a store. The next day her friend returned with a ruffled dress made for a teenager. St. Louis insisted she take it back.

"The (sales) lady was angry that she wanted her money back, but I said, 'Stop being mad. This woman wants to feel pretty. Outfit her to the T,'" St. Louis recalled.

From then on, St. Louis always made sure her friend was well dressed. Years later, when St. Louis needed money to help get Florette Flowers going, her friend was there to repay the favor.

St. Louis' husband has passed away and her sons have families of their own, one still in Craig and one in Denver.

St. Louis, still dressed neatly in bright suits and striking jewelry, lives alone at the house and shop, except for occasional help from a longtime friend. She still gets up at 4 a.m. to water all the flowers and plans her weeks around the delivery of the flowers.

"If you get 15, 20, 30 orders you're not going to get your dishes done," she said. "So you put them in the dishwasher, make the sign of the cross, and run."

The store and house are filled with stuffed animals, which St. Louis calls "tricks of the trade." She said when mothers come in with young children and are trying to order flowers but the child is getting restless, she offers them a stuffed animal of their choice to take home with them. "Works every time," she said.

"I told them I had all the celebration I needed just being happy I had a business I liked for 50 years," St. Louis said.

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