By Kevin Schaefer
Norma Peterson, former publisher of The Herald and other papers in southwestern North Dakota and northwestern South Dakota, lost her 16 month battle with cancer last Friday evening, June 7, 2013.
Published June 14, 2013
She passed away at her home in New England with her loving family at her side.
It is very difficult to report the loss of a person who touched the lives of so many in such an intimate way. To make it that much more difficult was to hear the news of the loss of two other lives from farm accidents which occurred Monday.
Norma began working outside the home when her youngest began kindergarten. She was a waitress at the bowling alley and that is where I first had the opportunity to know her. Her bubbly personality, penetrating smile and unique laughter was infectious to all of her customers. Norma absolutely loved being of service to everyone. Following her stint in the food business, she began working at a nursing home in Dickinson. One can only imagine the effect she had on those residents, because she brought that smile, laugh and personality to that job also. Except, knowing Norma the way I do now, I do not think that she considered that work to be a job. She lived to serve others, and the manner in which she performed those tasks was very apparent. Her presence, I’m sure, brought a special joy and comfort to the elderly.
Her next relocation from which she received a paycheck was Rehab
Visions. Again, serving others. Massaging the hurts, assisting in
strength building and helping other grow stronger with her relaxed
methods of encouragement. And, once again, I’m sure that she didn’t
consider it a job.
Remember that while she was helping others, she was also a wife,
mother and homemaker. There were meals, dishes, laundry, homework,
broken bones and hearts, housework and all the other ‘have tos’ and
‘want tos’ that this life brings. Norma was a ‘Mom’ and a ‘Honey.’
Every anniversary, (41) Barry gave her a dozen yellow roses. That is
a lot of flowers.
She began her employment at The Herald July 31, 1998. And she brought
her laugh, smile and work ethic to that job also. Her loyalty to her
community, the company she was employed with, and her many, many
friends was contagious. Norma put her whole heart and strength into
all of the aspects of her life and all the while sharing her love
She pulled me off the street at the end of June in 2006 and offered
me a job. We worked four feet apart, 40 plus hours per week for the
next six plus years. You get to know someone very well in that
environment. She was ‘the boss,’ but she was also a friend.
Norma treated those ‘under’ her tutelage with kindness, fairness and
guidance. She loved to teach, and her concern for others was
overwhelming. She always was patient, kind and thoughtful.
“One of the most satisfying aspects of managing our Dakota group of newspapers was the time we spent working with Norma, for whom no task or barrier or challenge was too great,” says Steve Hungerford. He and his wife, Carol, run Country Media, which owns The Herald and seven other newspapers in the Dakotas and Montana.
“She was ever willing to cheerfully pitch in however she could, as publisher of The Herald or wherever we needed her. And, yes, we could always count on her to offer her opinion as to how we should proceed.
“To simply say we’ll miss Norma is completely inadequate.”
Norma was very dedicated to the military and those who have served.
She seriously endorsed ‘wearing red on Fridays’ and visited various
businesses sporadically on Fridays to see if others were in
compliance. She earned the reputation of ‘The Red Nazi.’
Norma loved everyone, especially children. She loved to tease, hug
and play with them. She would cuddle them like a grandma and sit down
in the sandbox and play trucks with them too.
We said goodbye physically to our beloved Norma Jean on Thursday,
June 13, 2013, but she will live in the hearts and minds of all who
she touched in her life of service to others.
Farewell, Norma, we will see you in heaven.