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Life Story / Obituary
With a life that spanned times of great change in the world around her, Norma Dewey was such a special part in the lives of so many. She was kind, loving, and known for her warm hugs with a zest for life that was contagious to all who were near. Norma was deeply devoted to her family, and she was so proud to witness her family tree blossom to include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren she adored. Life will never be the same without Norma here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
During the first half of the 1940s, the eyes of our nation were focused overseas as WWII raged on. Countless young servicemen and women had answered the call to serve, and those who remained stateside became familiar with rationing on common goods. It was during this eventful time that Clifford and Dorothy (Van Ess) Collins proudly announced the birth of the baby girl they named Norma Jean on January 15, 1943, in Lowell, Michigan. She was the youngest of six as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Walt, Stella Doris, Sally, and Ed, and there was quite a large gap among the siblings. Norma’s parents divorced when Norma was very young, so her mother raised her children as a single mother. To support her family, her mother worked as a cook and waitress, which meant that Norma was primarily cared for by her older siblings. Their family home was on Powers Avenue, NW, in Walker.
From the time she was a young girl, Norma was an active person with several interests. She was creative and loved making crafts of all kinds. Sewing, crocheting, embroidery, and ceramics were among the things she enjoyed, and Norma was very talented as well. As a student she attended Union School through her eighth grade graduation. As a class trip that year they went to the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit, which was a big deal at the time, That trip remained an important memory for the rest of her life. Norma was a typical girl of the fifties who enjoyed the dresses, music, and other popular activities of the time. Her first job as a teen was working as a waitress in a diner / restaurant.
New and exciting changes were store for Norma when she met the young man who would forever hold the key to her heart. His name was Floyd Dewey, and they met in a rather unusual way as he called a wrong number, at least that was the story he told. In time, their conversations led to a date, and the rest is history as they say. Norma already had a daughter, Deborah, at that time. Floyd was a truck driver and also was a farm laborer. With the desire to spend the rest of their lives together Norma and Floyd were married on July 24, 1965, at her mom's house on Powers Avenue. Deborah was two when they married, and Floyd embraced her as his own. Together they welcomed three additional daughters including Sandra, Rose, and Elizabeth into their hearts and home. Norma was not only a wife, mother, and homemaker, but she also did some babysitting and childcare in her home. She didn’t have a lot of down time, but Norma did enjoy reading VC Andrews mysteries and listening to classic country from artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, Sr. As a young girl of her time she was also a lifelong Elvis fan.
There was never anything of greater importance to Norma than her family. As a family they made several memories together while camping in places like Baldwin, White Cloud, Traverse City, and Myers Lake Park. Norma and her family were given a tough pill to swallow when Floyd was diagnosed with cancer when he was just 60 years old. After six weeks of caring for him, she was deeply saddened with his death. Brighter days were on the horizon for Norma when grandchildren began arriving, and she was very involved in the lives of all of her grandchildren. Grandma Norma watched all of them over the years, and she had close relationships with all nine of her grandchildren. She taught them all to bake and craft, and they all made her so proud. Norma was there to help guide them in life, and she didn’t hesitate to be blunt with them when needed. As her family and friends can attest, Norma was a great cook and baker. Among her specialties were her meat and potatoes as well as her secret peanut butter bars recipe.
All who knew Norma Dewey would agree that she was one of the sweetest and most kind people you could ever meet. Life wasn’t without times of trial for her, but she faced whatever came her way and made the most of the days she was given. There was no greater joy than the love she shared with family, and Norma was happiest when surrounded by the ones she treasured most. Others saw her as a safe place, and she always accepted others without condition. Deeply loved, she will be forever missed.
DEWEY, Norma J., Grand Rapids, MI, Age 76, passed away on June 12, 2019. Norma was born January 15, 1943 in Lowell, MI to the late Clifford and Dorothy (Van Ess) Collins. She was also preceded in death by her husband Floyd in 1995. Norma is survived by her daughters, Deborah (Jack) Lezotte of Gibraltar, Sandra (Mike) Tuin of Sheridan, Rose (Tim) Johnson of Belmont, Elizabeth Dewey of New Port Richey, FL; 9 grandchildren; & 18 great grandchildren. She is also survived by her sisters, Estella Hess of Paragould, AR, Doris Gibbs of Byron Center; sisters-in-law, Gladys Garner of Grand Rapids, Ella Menzel of Grand Rapids; several nieces & nephews; and special nephew, Jimmy Combs. A funeral service will be held Saturday June 15th at 1 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home, 1833 Plainfield Ave NE where friends may visit with family beginning at 12 PM. Interment will be in Blythefield Memory Gardens. Memorials may be made to the family to help with expenses. Please visit Norma's personal web page to read more of her life story, leave a memory or condolence at www.heritagelifestory.com.