Florence Markoff (1917 – 2017)

Florence Markoff was born on August 24, 1917 in Attleboro, MA to David and Molly Shapiro. She lived her entire life in Rhode Island, graduating from Hope High School and Emerson College in Boston. Upon graduation from college she gave private elocution and drama lessons in Rhode Island.

She was a pioneer in radio broadcasting, appearing on radio stations WJAR, WPRO and WEAN. Using her talents in speech, writing, and broadcasting she became known for her word smiting skills; her distinctive broadcasting voice was widely recognizable.  She is best known for two radio programs that she created and announced, and which were well received by the listening public. In her first program “There’s a Word For It” she discussed the origin of words and phrases in common usage.  Later, in the 1970s and again in the 1990s she developed “Rhode Island Portraits in Sound” which featured biographies of famous local personalities. This program was so well received that it resulted in an audio taped edition.

In recognition of her pioneering radio achievement Florence was inducted into both the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame and the Emerson College Hall of Fame. Florence died on July 18, 2017 having lived a remarkable ninety-nine years. She had been married to Henry W. Markoff, a renowned architectural engineer, who pre-deceased her. She was survived by three sons.

Russell J. DeSimone

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