Ethel Fuog, surrounded by her children and grandchildren
By Dianna Smith
HIGHLAND BEACH — Ethel Fuog spent many a summer night in her hometown of Chicago, sipping drinks in her daughter’s backyard during one of the many cocktail parties she looked forward to every year.
And though she lived the last 30-plus years in Highland Beach enjoying the sunshine, she often spent summers visiting her daughter, Jane Browne, in Chicago. So it wasn’t a surprise when she said it was in that backyard where she wanted her ashes to be buried so she’ll never miss the fun.
And that’s exactly where she will be very soon.
Mrs. Fuog died at the age of 96 on Oct. 9, only a month or so shy of her 97th birthday and two years after her other daughter, Nancy Matthias of Boca Raton, said her mother was ready to go. Fuog spent the last 24 months confined to her bed and she was weak and dependent on others. And since Fuog spent her life touting her independence and proving she was a strong woman, she didn’t want to live any differently.
“She said she wanted to go because that wasn’t her life,” Matthias said.
Mrs. Fuog moved to Highland Beach in the mid-1970s with her husband, Russell, who died in 1998. In Chicago, they were parents to two children and grandparents to six, but in Florida, they became golfers and discovered, like many others, that South Florida is a place where you can relax, enjoy life and reinvent yourself like Mrs. Fuog did.
She discovered yoga and practiced it until she was well into her 80s. She volunteered at the thrift shop at Boca Raton Community Hospital and she and her husband became avid cruisers so they could see the world
Mrs. Fuog grew up in Chicago, met her husband in high school and had hoped to go to college but her father believed it would lure her to drink and smoke so he forbade it.
Math was her strong suit and likely what she would have studied in school, which is why she was the one who not only took care of the household, but who paid the bills and decided how to invest the money her husband earned working in the education field.
She spent the last two years of her life planted in front of her 52-inch television screen watching the numbers go up and down on various news channels. She invested so well that her daughters, who inherited her investments, likely won’t change a thing.
“My mom handled all the finances in a time when women didn’t,” Browne said. “She took charge and my dad was more than willing to let her handle that.”
Though Matthias said her mother’s brain was perfect until the very end, it was her body that failed her.
Matthias was there when her mother died peacefully at home, just as she had wished. In the days leading up to her death, she told her daughter that she could see her late husband, Russell.
So on the day she died, Matthias whispered, “It’s time to go be with Dad.”
Their ashes will be buried together around that gazebo in Chicago, with a cocktail party in her honor. So Ethel will never miss the fun.