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Florence Littauer, Iconic Christian Speaker, Author and Personality Trainer, Dies at 92

Florence Littauer

John C. Maxwell, Leadership Author, Speaker and Coach, called her a “true legend” and “a masterful communicator.”

Florence Littauer, the iconic Christian speaker and author who championed messages of hope, encouragement and understanding, died July 11, 2020.  She was 92.

In her 50-year career, Florence authored 40+ books and addressed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States and overseas. John C. Maxwell, Leadership Author, Speaker and Coach, called her a “true legend” and “a masterful communicator who spoke with dignity, humor and shared practical biblical truths.” He says: “I am saddened by her death but am grateful her work will live on. I am sure she heard the words ‘Well Done Thou Good and Faithful Servant’ as she entered Heaven’s gate.”

Raised in Haverhill, MA during the Great Depression, Florence lived in sparse conditions with her parents and two siblings in two rooms behind her parent’s general store. Her ticket out was a scholarship to study English at the University of Massachusetts. She returned home to become an English, speech, and drama teacher at Haverhill High School and to help at the family store.

With her outgoing and sanguine nature, Florence was beloved by her pupils. Following her engagement to Fred Littauer, her drama students planned their wedding like a giant senior class play, patterned after the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. As a result, her wedding was so over the top it garnered the attention of the media and was featured in Life Magazine, in 1953.

The couple had four children, two sons and two daughters, and one adopted son. Both biological sons suffered from a degenerative brain disease and died young. The tragic loss of her sons sent Florence into a deep depression, which was the turning point that brought her and her family to Christian faith.

Her ministry began in 1967 when she and her husband Fred joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. Fred was Director of Conference services. Florence began teaching women’s Bible studies. Together, the couple taught Sunday School and Bible studies.

Groups began to invite Florence to tell her life story and to share how she overcame depression, launching what would become a global speaking and writing ministry. Her first published book was her life story, I Could Be Happy, if Only… in 1978—which has since been revised and retitled four times, the final publication was Behind the Personality (Revell 2003).

Her first published book in 1978 was her life story, I Could Be Happy, if Only…. Her updated biography was released in 2003 by Revell, called Behind the Personality.

Her best-selling book is Personality Pluswhich has sold millions of copies and is translated into more than 25 languages. John Maxwell says: “Personality Plus was life changing for me.” Through Florence’s work, the four personality types—which is widely known as “The Personalities”, became a fun and accessible tool for understanding yourself and getting along with others. Maxwell continues: “Her work on The Personalities has saved relationships worldwide. I've shared the concepts and the popular Personality Profile with audiences everywhere and especially encouraged pastors to equip themselves with her teachings.”

Many people will remember Florence Littauer for her powerful presentation on Silver Boxes: The Gift of Encouragement and her popular book by the same name (Thomas Nelson, 1989). Her masterful application of the Bible verse Ephesians 4:29 brought home the reality of the power our words have upon others and the effect we allow others’ words to have over our own lives. This important message has changed people’s lives by turning them into encouragers, and it has even been known to bring tears to the eyes of corporate CEOs. Silver Boxes has been one of the most frequently repeated Focus on the Family broadcasts. In introducing it, Dr. James Dobson calls it a “timeless message” that will “challenge you to think about what you speak into the lives of those around you.”(Listen to this signature speech in the Free Resources page at ThePersonalities.com.

In 1981, Florence formed CLASS (Christian Leaders and Speakers Seminars) to invest in and raise up a generation of communicators, especially women, to follow in her footsteps. Several notable alumni of the CLASS seminars included Beth Moore, Emilie Barnes, Patsy Clairmont, and Becky Tirabassi, who went on to establish successful speaking and writing ministries in their own right.

Hundreds of others have been, and are still being, published as a result of her leadership. About this aspect of her ministry, Maxwell says: “She was a trailblazer and opened the door for thousands of women to develop their leadership and communication skills. Several times, I invited her to present her CLASS Seminar in my church where she trained my staff, and others in Christian leadership, in speaking skills.”

 

Patsy Clairmont credits Florence with her success: “I met Florence 40 years ago when she took me under her tutelage and spoke truth into my broken life. She believed in me long before I had the courage to believe in myself. Her generosity of heart, her passion for learning, and her love of the privilege of platform work, made an indelible impression on my life. She was a dynamic mentor and dear friend.” Clairmont is one of the founding “Women of Faith” speakers and the author of numerous books—though regarding Littauer, Clairmont says she’s a “grateful student.”

Reflecting on the impact Florence Littauer made on their lives, Bob Barnes, multi-published author and husband of Emilie Barnes (1938 – 2016), says that they “met Fred and Florence Littauer in 1975 and immediately became great friends!” Their ministries bonded them together. “Florence considered Emilie ‘her sister’ and the two shared a special bond in friendship and ministry. Florence was Emilie’s mentor and was instrumental in introducing Emilie to her publisher, Harvest House. Florence had a tremendous impact on the ministry of More Hours In My Day. Florence mentored many women over the years and was an incredible communicator.”

Looking back on Florence’s ministry, Barnes states: “She was an exceptional woman and led many women to the Lord. She was a great encourager, motivator, offered affirmation and was a great friend to many. Florence truly was ‘one of a kind!’ She finished well and has earned her reward!”

Another couple Florence mentored was Bill and Pam Farrell. Pam states: “Florence took me and Bill under her wing early in our writing and speaking career. Before book our first book released, Pure Pleasure: Making Your MARRIAGE a Great Affair, we went through her amazing CLASSeminar. But she kept giving to us: tips to look better, speak better, connect better. Florence extended her platform and influence to share us. She recommended us to many churches. She called us her spiritual kids. And Fred gave my hubby so many tips on the privilege (and skills) of walking alongside a gifted (A.K.A. strong, driven Choleric) wife. We will always be grateful for Florence and Fred.”

Dodie Osteen, Joel Osteen’s mother, sent Florence the following in a note: “I am so glad you bless people everywhere you go.”

Florence continued traveling and speaking until at age 82 when she was forced to stop because of a bad bout with shingles. She lived independently Palm Springs, CA until age 89 when she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law Chuck in Lubbock, TX. 

Two weeks after her 92nd birthday, on May 17, Florence suffered a stroke then on June 21, she had a heart attack. After two months of hospitalization and a week of hospice care she died. She is survived by three children, five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

In one of her good phases of the long hospitalization—when it looked like she might recover, Marita told her mother that she was amazing. She looked up and said: “I want to be amazing.” Marita asked her to say it again so she could capture it on video to send to her siblings. Florence looked into Marita’s phone and told Marita: “I want to be really amazing.” Every life that Florence has touched, and there are too many to list here, would agree, Florence Littauer got her dying wish. She lived a life that was really amazing!

A private family service will be held Saturday in Lubbock, TX, and she will be buried, in her trademark “Silver Box” dress at Locust Grove Cemetery in Merrimac, MA, where her husband Fred and parents are buried. 

For more information visit www.ThePersonalities.com

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