MT. PLEASANT — On Dec. 10, 1986, City Clerk Florence Olomon was attending a Mt. Pleasant City Council meeting when Ralph Orin Davis walked in and fired a semi-automatic pistol, killing Mayor Edd King and injuring Joann Sankey and Ronald Dupree.
Florence wasn’t hurt. She was the one to leave the building and go for help. Orin sat peacefully and didn’t struggle when police arrived, according to news reports. He had been upset about the council’s response to sewer backup into his basement.
Talking to Florence, no one would be able to tell that she had gone through such a traumatic experience, said daughter Ashley Olomon.
Florence Olomon was unflinchingly positive and kind. No one had a bad word to say about her. She worked for the city of Mt. Pleasant for 47 years, moving from a worker in the City Clerk’s Office to deputy city clerk and finally city clerk in 1985, where she stayed until her death.
Florence died of complications due to COVID-19 on Dec. 22 at the age of 73.
“She was just such a warm and kind person, everyone around her loved her,” Ashley said.
Florence alerted her family Nov. 24 that she had tested positive for COVID-19 after a couple weeks of not feeling well and two negative COVID-19 tests. A
shley said they thought her illness came from something she ate since she didn’t have common COVID-19 symptoms, such as shortness of breath or congestion.
She stayed home until she said she couldn’t breathe, and her husband, Don Olomon, called an ambulance. The first time the ambulance came, Ashley said they didn’t take her to the hospital because they wouldn’t be able to do anything for her, she was in stable condition. Within the hour, Don called an ambulance again, and they took Florence to the Henry County Health Center. She was transferred to Mercy Hospital in Iowa City on Nov. 29.
After Florence was admitted, Don, Ashley’s sister Sarah Moss, Moss’ husband, their two children and her husband’s parents all tested positive, according to Ashley who was the only person to receive multiple negative COVID-19 tests and was allowed to visit her mother in the intensive care unit for two hours a day. Other members of the family were allowed to visit once they no longer had positive tests. Ashley said Florence had been doing better before she died, so they hadn’t been expecting it.
“Things went south very quickly,” Ashley said.
A GoFundMe has been created for Florence’s family, with $2,110 raised as of Wednesday. According to Florence’s obituary, a funeral service will be held Saturday at 11 a.m.
Florence was Ashley’s best friend as well as her mother. They would speak every day on the phone with Ashley now living in Hills, and Florence would often take the hourlong drive to bring her ice cream or leftovers. She often babysat Sarah’s children, and they got together for every holiday, as Florence loved the holidays. Her favorite was Christmas, Ashley said. They would also go dancing, heading to local artist David Kroll’s shows to line dance together.
“You couldn’t ask for a better mom,” Ashley said. “Her whole world was me and my sister, our dad.”
The love Florence felt for her family extended to her work. Deputy City Clerk Lori Davis worked with Florence for 10 years and said Florence’s kindness and patience stood out to her when she was just learning the job. Florence had moved to part-time recently, so she could spend more time with her grandchildren. Florence had been training Davis on her tasks.
She had a more old-school style of using paper and pencil the majority of the time, and Davis would see her sometimes using a No. 2 pencil sharpened down to practically the eraser. She didn’t like to waste and was always accurate. Every department came to her, not just because she was city clerk, but they knew she would be able to get them the information they needed and could trust her. She remembered everything and was efficient in her owm way.
“This was more than a job for her ... she cared about every project, every budget, and she wanted all the best for the city,” Davis said.
Davis said Florence looked forward to Old Threshers every year, and after her eight-hour shift at work she would go and count money for Old Threshers before heading home at 10-11 p.m. Everybody knew and liked her.
Ashley said those in the city and in the community have reached out throughout Florence’s hospital stay and after her death to make sure the family is doing all right. T
The city still is reeling from losing her, but Davis said they’re trying to keep going like she would’ve wanted. They’re not going to let Florence down.
“Those people are tough to replace, I mean never replace them,” City Administrator Brent Schleisman said. “You just modify yourself, your organization and your own personal life, and you try to get up and keep pushing forward. Sad day for Mt. Pleasant.”