Verien Claire Norton Flaherty died peacefully in her home in Jacksonville, FL on February 11, 2020 at the age of 85. She was born on October 21, 1934 at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, LA. She was a brilliant, creative Renaissance woman, willful in all aspects of her being. Her ambition, drive, and devotion to LSU sports came from her father, Earl Lamar Norton, a Southern Champion boxer for LSU who later became president of the LSU 'L' Club. She was thrilled to see her Tigers win another national championship. Her enjoyment of politics and community affairs passed from her great-grandfather, Wiley Sanders, founder of the family newspaper, The Star Herald, after the Civil War and friend of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her grandfather, Lucien Stokes Sanders was a Mississippi state senator. Her avid passion for playing bridge came from her grandmother, Della Carnes Sanders, who introduced her to legendary greats such as Charles Goren at tournaments. Trained by her mother, Dorothy Sanders Norton, Verien was an accomplished pianist and later in life took up oil painting as a hobby. She was a voracious reader and a talented writer, who majored in journalism at LSU. One of her best memories was being the lead in the Speech Department's production of George Bernard Shaw's "Misalliance". She was a double-legacy member of Delta Zeta sorority and was inducted into their Order of the Pearl upon her 65th year of membership. Verien and Charles Ross Flaherty married January 25, 1956 after he returned from Korea and the Marine Corps. She loved him until and after death parted them in 1988. Reflecting her favorite song, "My Way", she was an 'emancipated woman' and 'working Mom' before it was socially acceptable. Soon after graduation, she went to work at WAFB-TV, and then decided to go into real estate, becoming one of Baton Rouge's most successful agents and a pioneer in working with people of all races and incomes. Verien was consistently ahead of her time in all endeavors. Her growing family required ever-larger homes, leading to an additional career in home renovation, "flipping" houses before it was common. After the Watergate scandal, she opened a successful interior design store, "Coverup", and was certified by the American Society of Interior Designers. Her deep love of Southern history and culture led her to trading in antiques and salvage materials from old homes and buildings slated for demolition again before it was common. In 1978, she purchased St. Emma Plantation in Donaldsonville, LA and had it placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Verien was a pioneer in the revitalization of Beauregard Town, renovating an antebellum cottage and was an early proponent of the Baton Rouge Downtown Development District. Verien had a gift for organizing people and keeping them on point, whether it was a project or an emergency situation. On several occasions, she saved the lives of car accident victims doing on-the-spot triage. Besides her husband, Verien was predeceased by her sons, E. Lamar Flaherty and Andrew Flaherty. She is survived by her children Charles Flaherty, Jr., Della Flaherty Neely Stout, Belinda Flaherty, and Frederick Flaherty; grandchildren Camille Neely Winningham, Vanessa Flaherty Adkins, Beau Flaherty, Tabitha Burleigh, Amanda Flaherty, Caitlin Flaherty; and great-grandchildren Cade Flaherty, Thomas Winningham, Liam Winningham. The memorial service and burial have been postponed to a later date. Donations in memoriam can be made to Cat Haven of Greater Baton Rouge (www.cathaven.org).
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Published in The Advocate from Mar. 7 to Mar. 23, 2020.