Norma M. Pearson, 87, of Grangeville, passed away Tuesday, October 20, 2009, at Syringa General Hospital in Grangeville.
Norma was born July 27, 1922, at a farm on the edge of the Camas Prairie, arriving before her father could return from town with the doctor. Her parents, Elmer “Dutch” and Myrtle Hazelbaker, were already the parents of Ruth, and the family was later enlarged by the arrivals of Mildred and Burt.
Her childhood was marred by the untimely death of her mother when Norma was seven. Dutch kept his young family together and later married Flora Sotin. She brought her three sons, Fred, Lewis, and Jack, to the family. The family increased again when Dutch and Flo welcomed a son, Bob.
Norma attended a one-room rural school for her elementary school education. When it became time to attend high school she boarded with R.D. and Clara Pearson in Grangeville, exchanging household chores for room and board. She graduated from Grangeville High School in 1940.
While living with the Pearsons, Norma fell in love with her future husband, their son Austin. They were married June 23, 1940, and their love affair lasted until Austin’s death in 1999.
Norma and Austin lived in Portland, Oregon for a few months after the commencement of World War II. Austin worked in the shipyards and Norma worked in a department store. This brief period was the only time Norma lived away from Grangeville. She returned to Grangeville after Austin enlisted in the army, and gave birth to their first child, Carol, while he was overseas. Austin and Norma’s family was completed with the birth of their son Richard five years later.
Austin and Norma shared a passion for the outdoors, taking advantage of every opportunity to go camping, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding. Norma especially liked to fish and loved every moment she could spend with a fly rod beside a stream, casting into the pools and riffles. She relished a fly pan frill of freshly caught trout, curling up at the edges, to be shared with her family.
Norma entered the work force and spent 22 years working for J.C. Penney. She made special friendships with the other employees, and learned the fine art of balancing work and family life.
After retirement Norma and Austin moved to their cabin at the top of White Bird Hill. With its panoramic view, nestled amongst the trees, it was a refuge they both treasured. Austin suffered a stroke in 1991, and Norma became his full-time caregiver. They continued to live at their cabin until a few weeks before Austin’s death. Thereafter Norma made her home with her son Rich and his wife, Nette. She became a member of the Centennial Evangelical Free Church and greatly enjoyed the fellowship she found there.
Norma was an avid baseball fan. She closely followed her favorite teams, the Braves and the Mariners, knew all the players, and she was elated whenever they could beat the Yankees.
Family was the center of Norma’s life. She attended every school function and sporting event her children participated in, and spent countless hours observing their swimming lessons. She continued to do this whenever possible with her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She loved going to Justin’s T-ball games, and Madison’s dance recitals. Her legacy of love of family and the outdoors lives on through the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Her presence will always be felt around the table at family gatherings, and along the streams she loved to fish.
Norma is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Carol and Lynn Marsh; her son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Lenette Pearson; brother and sister-in-law Bert and Annie Hazelbaker, brother Robert Hazelbaker, aunt Maryjoria Martin; grandchildren Angela Yates, Jim Marsh, Brooke Hendren, Jodi Fogleman, and Jim Quimby; great-grandchildren Madison Hendren, Travis Hendren, Justin Fogleman, and Samantha Yates.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at 1:00 p.m., at the Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville. Burial will follow at Prairie View Cemetery. Viewing will be held on Saturday, prior to the service, from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., at the funeral home.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Blackmer Funeral Home in Grangeville.