1. News
  2. /
  3. Pinellas

Florist Delma Booth, who turned ballrooms into wonderlands, dead at 89

Delma’s Flower Booth created the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s Christmas display for nearly 50 years.
Delma Booth  attaches ribbons onto a Christmas tree at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Monday in 2004.  Booth and her staff took a full week to decorate the yacht club. They used 70 trees and over 49,000 lights. [BORCHUCK, JAMES  |  St. Petersburg Times]
Delma Booth attaches ribbons onto a Christmas tree at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Monday in 2004. Booth and her staff took a full week to decorate the yacht club. They used 70 trees and over 49,000 lights. [BORCHUCK, JAMES | St. Petersburg Times]
Published Dec. 3
Updated Dec. 3

ST. PETERSBURG — As children, sisters Marie Sonn and Delma Booth would pick straw flowers from a field and sea oats from the beach, color them with Easter egg dye and create floral arrangements.

For Sonn, it was a childhood hobby. Mrs. Booth made a career of it.

She’d go on to open St. Petersburg-based Delma’s Flower Booth at a time when it was uncommon for young women to own their businesses. She grew the place into a shop that did far more than floral arrangements.

“She created art,” said sister Sonn, 85.

Booth would fill “every nook and cranny” of a room with plants, flowers and trees, Sonn said. For nearly 50 years, she turned the St. Petersburg Yacht Club into a winter wonderland that people from throughout the area would drive to see.

Mrs. Booth died Nov. 16 of a stroke, her sister said. She was 89.

Mrs. Booth’s niece Stephanie Anderson will continue to operate Delma’s Flower Booth, 2448 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg.

“She would want to be remembered as someone who would do anything for her customers,” said Anderson. “She just wanted to make them happy. It made her happy to see them happy.”

When a bride and groom wanted to be showered with rose petals following their vows, Ms. Booth and her carpenter husband Wally Booth built a contraption to make it happen, Anderson said.

In February 1987, according to Tampa Bay Times archives, Mrs. Booth created an entire tropical forest for an event at the yacht club.

She “hung oak branches from the ballroom ceiling with orchids and bromeliads on them," the Times reported. “Giant arrangements of anthuriums and other tropical flowers bloomed on the tables."

“She did everything big,” said her son James Booth, 60.

Born in Oxford, Fla., to Jeffie and Beulah Nichols, Mrs. Booth was in seventh grade when she moved with her family from Ocala to St. Petersburg.

While attending St. Petersburg High School, Mrs. Booth had a teacher, Mrs. Price, who recognized her artistic ability and guided her to the floral business, niece Anderson said. “It was a perfect match. She never thought of doing anything else.”

Mrs. Booth worked for other floral shops in the area before venturing out on her own in 1954.

Customers she had worked with promised to go with her, according to news archives, and old bosses provided equipment and help with deliveries.

“She was a pioneer,” son James Booth said. “This was the early 1950s. It was a man’s world. There weren’t many women with their own businesses. But she did it.”

A few years later, she met Wally, whose carpentry skills were the perfect complement to Mrs. Booth’s artistic vision, her son said.

“She’d come up with the darnedest ideas and he’d build it,” he said. “If my dad couldn’t build it, it couldn’t be done.”

Soon, she was the go-to florist for socialite weddings and major events in St. Petersburg. Her annual calling card was the yacht club’s winter display.

One year, she had an old-fashioned living room with a fireplace built from scratch in the ballroom, he said, and another year they turned the club into a toy store.

In 2004, Mrs. Booth imported 70 Christmas trees from North Carolina and used over 49,000 lights for the event.

Each tree was different.

“Some had kids’ stuff, some had white lights, some had purple lights, some represented different countries,” her son said.

The yacht club began using different decorators in 2010.

Mrs. Booth retired from full-time duties at Delma’s Flower Booth a few years ago because of her health, her sister Sonn said. Her husband died in 2016. She spoke often about how she missed the business every day.

“Her customers meant everything to her,” Sonn said. “She loved making pretty things for them.”


Delma Booth

Born: Nov. 1, 1930

Died: Nov. 16, 2019

Survived by: Son, James; three granddaughters, Tiffany Sabiel (Keith), Ariel Booth, Lexi Booth; sister, Marie Sonn.

The service has been held.


  1. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman center, held a news conference at the Manhattan Casino on Tuesday where he announced a new vision for the 22nd Street S corridor called Deuces Rising. The plan includes building a new Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American Museum at Commerce Park. CIty Council member Darden Rice, is to the mayor's left and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin is on the right. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The proposal to build warehouses on Commerce Park along 22nd Avenue S fell apart. Now the city wants to move the African American museum there.
  2. First time shuffleboard player Missa Kes, 29, St. Petersburg, front, left, shoots her disc during an open shuffle event at the club, Friday, December 6, 2019. The club has open shuffle events for the public Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights in St. Petersburg. Friday Night Shuffles are free. [SCOTT KEELER]
    Club members pump thousands of dollars into restoration projects at the historic Mirror Lake site
  3. DIRK SHADD   |   Times
The closed sign hangs on the entrance of the tract at Oldsmar BMX, 3120 Tampa Road, in Oldsmar on Friday, May 3, 2019. The world famous BMX track in Oldsmar shut down suddenly earlier this year. The city cited safety concerns after a routine building inspection, and a subsequent report confirmed that serious structural issues in the track's walls exist. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    The track remains closed indefinitely.
  4. Largo police say they are looking for a man, shown here, who sexually battered a woman inside a massage business on East Bay Drive on Sunday evening. [Largo police]
    He “sexually battered the female victim and stole her money prior to exiting,” a police department media release states.
  5. Cars pack Interstate 275 south just past downtown Tampa. Downtown Tampa is the loudest neighborhood in the Tampa metropolitan area, which is the loudest metro in the nation, according to a Zillow analysis based on noise-mapping data collected in urban and rural areas nationwide by the National Park Service. (Times (2010) [Times (2010)]
    The online real estate company used sound-mapping information collected by the National Park Service (yes, really) to compile its noisiest metros ranking.
  6. Roxanne Amoroso quit as a board member of the troubled St. Petersburg Housing Authority after less than five months. [St. Petersburg Housing Authority]
    Roxanne Amoroso quit the St. Petersburg Housing Authority over concerns it lacks the expertise to handle Jordan Park redevelopment.
  7. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    A cop car comes. A child is handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. The scene is all too frequent at public schools across the state.
  8. Prospective rivals to Apollo Global Management had until 11:59 p.m. Monday to submit a competing bid for Tech Data during what is known as a "go-shop" period. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Prospective bidders had until 11:59 p.m. Monday to submit competing offers for Tech Data during what is known as a “go-shop” period.
  9. Largo police are looking for a man accused of sexually battering and robbing a woman inside a massage business on E Bay Drive on Dec. 8. [Largo Police Department]
    The incident took place on Sunday and police are searching for a suspect.
  10. Taniea D. Sherrod, 18, is charged with aggravated battery with a weapon after police say she used a pair of surgical scissors to stab her boyfriend while he was in a hospital bed. [Pinellas County Jail]
    She was charged with aggravated battery with a weapon.