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Mona Grace Norris passed away on January 7, 2012 at the Skilled Nursing Facility in Needham, MA. She was 100 years old. She was the wife of the late George L. Norris and mother of the late Lana N. Righter and George C. Norris. She is survived by her granddaughters, Lisa Rubin of Arlington, MA, Michelle Norris of Herzliyya, Israel and Deborah Hall of San Jose, CA. She is also survived by her 5 great grandchildren: Lexie Rubin, Naomi, Roy and Elinor Lubash and Clayton Hall Koehler. She is also survived by her Son-in-law, Christopher Righter, daughter-in-law, Janet Norris, grandsons-in-law, David Rubin and Dan Lubash, a sister, Enid Jensen of Hebron NE and many nieces and nephews scattered throughout the U.S.
Mona was born on January 1, 1912 in Exira, Iowa, a small rural town in Audobon County in Central Iowa. Her father was Frank Kreamer and her Mother Maude Hamlin Kreamer. She had four sisters, Elva, Kathleen, Edna and Enid and one brother Frank. She attended the University of Iowa, School of Nursing and graduated in 1932. She then joined the National Public Health Service (NPHS) and spent several years traveling and doing 1-2 year posts with the NPHS at various hospitals in New York/Staten Island, Cleveland, OH and St. Louis. In 1938 she married George L. Norris whom she had previously met at the University of Iowa when he was in Law School. They settled in George's hometown of Cantril, Iowa and had their two children, Lana and George Clyde in 1940 and 1942, respectively. Mona was a homemaker for many years while raising her children. She was an active volunteer in the local community and after her children were grown she went back to nursing and worked at Van Buren County Hospital in Keosauqua, IA as an OR nurse and a head nurse. She and George lost their son George Clyde or "Butch" as he was affectionately known in April, 1968 in Vietnam where he served in the Marines. She retired in the early seventies to spend more time with George and take care of him as he was ill and because they wanted to do some traveling. They bought a second home in Sedona, AZ in 1975 and spent 2 winters there before George passed away in July, 1977. George, who was an attorney, also served as President of the family owned bank. He handed over the reins to Mona in the early Seventies and when he passed away she took over full-time and became the Bank's President. At that time she was one of only seven female Bank Presidents in the United States. She truly enjoyed her tenure there and spent her time continuing to run the bank, travel and spend a few months each winter in Sedona. In 1985 she decided to sell the bank, sell her home and move to Des Moines so that she could retire fully and devote her time to travel, winters in AZ and seeing more of her family who were on the East and West Coasts. She bought a condo in Des Moines and spent many years trotting the globe with friends and family and seeing as much of the world as she could. In addition to seeing much of the U.S. and Hawaii, she made it to Europe a number of times as well as parts of Africa, South America, Central America and the Caribbean and the Far East. In 2001 she suffered another great loss, her daughter Lana passed away at 61 of Pancreatic cancer. This loss, coupled with some small health issues made her decide to move to the Boston area to be closer to her family who were in Arlington, Winchester and London at the time. She moved to North Hill in Needham in May, 2003 at the age of 91 and was very happy and content in her apartment until December of 2010, when, in failing health, and unable to really take care of herself without a lot of assistance she moved to the skilled nursing facility and lived until her passing on January 7, 2012. If anyone wishes to make a contribution to an organization in her name there are two that were near and dear to her heart. As a graduate of the Nursing School at the University of Iowa, she always made annual contributions to the University of Iowa Foundation with a special designation to the Nursing Progress Fund. Additionally, there is a wonderful park, with walking trails, a fishing pond and campground in Cantril that is funded through donations and Volunteerism by the townspeople. She gave them a donation every year in addition to planting three trees in memory of her husband and children. If you would like to contribute to that fund, please contact Lisa Rubin for the address and information of the Waubonsie Trail Park and Grass Roots Organization in Cantril, Iowa.
This is but a short biography of a woman and the life she lived. We read them all the time. She would tell you that she wished she had done more to help people, that she felt she could have been a kinder person and that although "she had a good life", there were many ups and downs, some tragic periods and she wished she had been a better person, maybe not so self-involved and perhaps a little less vain. Was she perfect? Of course not. But to her family and many of her friends, she was an amazing woman who was beautiful, strong, brave and her own woman. She was a 'modern woman' before her time in many ways who had two careers, saw more change in her lifetime than many can imagine; She struggled like everyone and yet was always pragmatic yet kind and had a lovely wry sense of humor. Her favorite tag line when she was trying to teach you lesson? "Retribution is a slow but sure-footed traveler." There was never any need for her to be worried about retribution. Now she is home with her other loved ones who have gone before and she is safe. Here's to Mona, may she rest in peace at last.