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Life Story / Obituary
As her family and friends can attest, Sharon Norman truly understood the secret to a life well lived. She was a constant source of strength for those around her, even in the most difficult of times. Sharon was well known for her sense of humor, and her sparkling personality lit up any room she walked into. She was always willing to go above and beyond to serve those in need, touching the lives of so many. Deeply loved, Sharon will be forever missed by those who knew her best.
With the end of WWII in 1945, countless young servicemen and women returned stateside while rationing was no longer needed to support the war effort. There was much to celebrate, and the baby boom was soon underway. It was also during this exciting time that Carlton and Doris (Ehalt) Pletcher were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Sharon Lee on May 14, 1947.
Growing up, Sharon was a typical young girl of her generation. She was raised in the family home in Niles, Michigan, as an only child. Since she had no siblings, Sharon grew to be very close with her cousins who lived nearby and enjoyed playing with them whenever she could. Sharon’s father supported the family by working as a pattern maker for Simplicity Pattern while her mother devoted herself to being a homemaker. Throughout Sharon’s childhood, the Pletcher family took many memorable car trips across America, staying in various motels and hotels. She was eventually able to visit all 50 states! As a child, Sharon enjoyed raising her two beloved checkered rabbits at a nearby farm and also liked baton twirling, singing in choir, and playing the piano.
As a student Sharon attended local public schools in Niles. She was a classmate of Tommy James, who would go on to become famous with his rock band, “Tommy James and the Shondells.” Sharon graduated from high school in 1965, then left her hometown to attend Davenport College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she lived in the dorms. She graduated from Davenport with a marketing degree in 1967, eager for the next phase in life.
Not to be forgetter during her years at Davenport was her introduction to a classmate who would become the love of her life. His name was Carl Norman, and the two first met in a class at Davenport College. The two shared an instant connection, and over the next year of dating their relationship would continue to blossom. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Sharon and Carl were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Niles, Michigan, on May 25, 1968. The newlyweds enjoyed a honeymoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, then settled into a rented house at 2860 Coit Avenue NE. In February of 1970, the young couple purchased their forever home at 2030 Birch Dr. in Grand Rapids.
All who knew Sharon can certainly agree that she treasured her family above all else. Throughout their years together, she and Carl were overjoyed to welcome two beloved daughters, Marcey and Kim, into their hearts and home. Sharon took her role as a mother very seriously and dedicated herself to raising her daughters into kind and hardworking individuals. Later in life, she was thrilled to become a grandmother and even a great-grandmother, and it was easy to see that these younger generations were the light of her life.
Throughout her life, Sharon was devoted to serving her community. She worked to support herself and her family as an insurance claims adjuster at Wilson Insurance Co. and Marsh-McLennan Insurance in downtown Grand Rapids. Sharon and her family were members of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids. She volunteered at the church food pantry and with the Other Way Ministries, allowing her to touch the lives of countless others.
Never one to sit still for long, Sharon pursued many hobbies in her free time. She enjoyed traveling with her family, including to locations such as California, Florida, Texas, and even Disney. Carl was a private pilot, so he would often rent planes and take the family on trips to visit relatives and to various places in Michigan. Sharon liked the popular folk music of her generation like Simon and Garfield and ABBA. Though she didn’t usually enjoy reading books, she did like to read magazines such as Martha Stewart and Better Homes and Gardens. Sharon loved watching reality television programs and crime shows. She especially liked seafood, and her favorite restaurants included Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Charlie’s Crab. When it came to the foods she made, Sharon was known for her chili and barbecue. She also enjoyed watching professional sports such as NFL and NBA, as well as college sports. Sharon discovered her love for dogs at a young age and had a Cocker Spaniel named Taffy as a child. She eventually followed her passion to become a dog trainer and showed her Cocker Spaniels and Boston Terriers in various confirmation professional dog shows. She subsequently went on to show a tricolored Cocker Spaniel named Chase at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Show in New York City. Since her father was an avid rock collector Sharon was very knowledgeable about various rocks and stones. She even had a prized collection of rare and unusual rocks, which she donated many to a university.
Over the years, Sharon’s resilience was truly tested as she battled with many health struggles. She fought her way through open heart surgery, breast cancer, a kidney transplant, and back surgery without once complaining. During these times of hardship, Sharon leaned on her faith and her loved ones. She and her family found great comfort in the lyrics of the song “His Eye is On the Sparrow.”
When reflecting on the life of Sharon Norman, it is easy to see her unwavering strength and her unconditional love for her family. Nothing brought Sharon greater joy than spending time with her loved ones. A proud wife and mother, she considered herself blessed to watch her family grow to include so many members. Among friends and loved ones, Sharon was known for her generous spirit and her serving heart. She was a shining example of kindness and hospitality, and she always had an encouraging word to say. Though she will be dearly missed, Sharon leaves behind a priceless legacy that her loved ones will be proud to carry on in her footsteps.
Sharon Lee Norman age 75, of Grand Rapids, passed away on Thursday June 30, 2022. She was born in Niles, MI in the spring of 1947 to the late Carlton and Doris Pletcher. Along with her parents, she is preceded in death by her sister-in-law Joyce Hanlon. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Carl Norman and their daughters Marcelyn (Samuel) Thomas and Kimberly (Gary) Gager; grandchildren Robert (Samantha) Norman, Callie Rackes and Mason Rackes as well as by one great granddaughter Marilyn Rackes. Also surviving are her brother-in-law Charles Hanlon, nephew Curt (Renee) Hanlon, niece Janelle Washburn and several cousins and friends.
Sharon's funeral service will be held on Wednesday July 6, 2022 at 6 PM. Visitation will take place prior from 3-6 PM both at the Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Alt Shawmut Chapel, (2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504).
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Humane Society Of West Michigan, (3077 Wilson Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49534) or to the The Other Way Ministries - Community Resource Center, (710 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504).