Norma was born on July 28, 1934, in Helena, Montana to John Norman and Lucille Ida Matthews. Norma was raised in Helena and graduated from Helena High School in 1952.
Norma met Air Force Serviceman Dale while he was traveling throughout Montana speaking about Air Defense.
Norma was initially on a date with Dale’s Air Force co-worker at an ice skating party in Townsend, Montana.
On that freezing night, Dale asked Norma to sit in his car to warm up. She said yes. Soon after meeting, Dale asked Norma to marry him. She said yes. A few weeks later, Dale was sent to Corpus Christie, Texas for the last 6 months of his Air Force career.
Norma and her sister, Nancy (also engaged) planned a stunning June wedding highlighted by matching gowns. Norma in pale pink and Nancy in pale blue. The wedding was held on June 18, 1955 at St. Helena Cathedral.
Norma was synonymous with many things – daughter, sister, wife, Mom, Gram, Grammy, Betty Boop enthusiast, incredible seamstress and so much more. Most notably, for her family, she was a leading light.
She and Dale called Montana their home most of their 67 years, raising 5 children and collecting a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, fish and a few canaries along the way.
They built a lifetime of memories and adventures including living in one of the furthest northern Alaskan villages for 3 years after their children were grown. Dale always wanted to live in Alaska and after traveling by dogsled to his job interview he was hired as superintendent in St. Mary’s, Alaska. Once again, Norma said yes, she would follow him anywhere. Their most interesting adventure to date included the persistent nighttime, a dry village (no beer) and eating an enormous amount of freshly caught salmon. Having limited supplies all the time, they were excited when invited to an ice cream party. The “ice cream” was a bowl of a Crisco-like substance with blueberries and oil squeezed from a raw fish for the topping. Everyone’s phone bill became astronomical and Norma cried every day for 6 months but made lifelong friends. After enduring 3 years in Alaska, Norma and Dale returned to their Montana home in Belgrade. Once home, a quiet retirement was not an option. Together they built Montana Horseman Saddle Building School. Dale taught and Norma was the bookkeeper, treat maker and all around organizer.
Norma’s favorite holiday was any holiday, most especially July 4th with large family picnics. Sewing, cooking and baking family favorites was a specialty and always included Divinity candy that nobody could ever duplicate. Collecting, organizing and sharing family history and photographs was her super power. Her kids and grandkids often used the information and photos for school projects.
Her laughter was contagious and came easily. She often laughed until she cried, wiping tears from behind her glasses. She loved black licorice, baking cookies for new neighbors and giving perfectly chosen gifts and cards. She wasn’t afraid to offer her opinion and give advice. She made those around her stronger and life a whole lot brighter. It is an understatement to say that she will be greatly missed.
Norma is survived by her loving husband, Dale; children, Kelly (Gwen) Moore, Kim (Jeff) McDowell, Karry Hesla, Kevin (Kaydee) Moore, Kristen Moore (Tom Novak); grandchildren; Mason Moore, Laci McDowell Glenn, Cody McDowell, Taylor McDowell, Adam Root, Cotton Root, Siona Hesla, Mikael Moore, Cally Moore, Marlee Moore, Justine Moore-Bradley, and Reed Novak; 12 great grandchildren; and brother, John Aaron Matthews. She will also be missed by numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents; sister, Nancy McCaffree; baby daughter, Kathryn Lou; baby granddaughter, Madison Kelly; and grandson Mike Hesla.
With her family by her side, Norma passed away in her home on August 9, 2022 due to COVID complications.
In honor of Norma, the family will be wearing bright colors.
A Celebration of Life will be at the Colonial Inn in Helena, Montana on Tuesday, August 16, 2022 at 1:00 in the afternoon. At a later date, interment will take place at the Dry Creek Cemetery.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com