Norma Ellen Knox Anderson - July 12, 1921- May 30, 2010
Friend of the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, Norma Anderson, passed peacefully of heart failure at the age of 88, in the early morning hours of May 30.
Norma was born to Norman Knox, farmer and deliveryman and Esther Clara Viola Fleischman, teacher, on July 12, 1921 in the northern climes of Minnesota. She was raised on a farm in Puposky; the nearest town was Bemidji. She was the 4th of 10 siblings. Her mother died very young of a prolonged illness and Norma left high school for two years to care for her and her younger siblings; she returned to Bemidji High School, graduating at the age of 16.
Norma knew at a very young age that she wanted to go into medicine. She thought first to become a doctor but knew the daunting challenges of entering medical school as a female student. She convinced her father, who was against college for his daughters, to send her to nurses training. She waited two years, until she was 18, to matriculate at the University Of Minnesota School of Nursing. There, she had the rare opportunity to work with polio patients alongside Sister Kenny. She received her diploma in 1942.
After graduation, Norma came to Oregon where she met her life-long love, Thomas Delbert Anderson, of Portland. Norma and Tommy had three children and enjoyed camping and fishing and many other activities. Both Tommy and Norma were from large extended families, so much of their free-time was spent in family and school activities including PTA, Scouts and 4H. Loving to dance, they took time out from their busy lives to enjoy nights out dancing and dining. After 22 years of marriage, Tommy died in a tragic car accident at the age of 52. Norma never remarried.
As a graduate of the reputable School of Nursing at UM, Norma found it easy to find work. She was employed as a nurse until she retired in1983. Though she worked at hospitals in Vancouver, Washington and Eugene, Oregon, the greatest part of her career was spent at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland. She began working at St. Vs in 1949, taking summers off until 1964 to care for her children. She held positions as head nurse, interim assistant Director of Nurses and full time night supervisor. She often said that she preferred hands on nursing to desk work. “If a patient’s light was on, I answered the call”, she would say. “The patient didn’t care whether the person getting a bed pan or an emesis basin was an aide, a nurse or a supervisor." Norma had a very successful career and delighted in telling stories of her time at St. Vincent. Many nurses, who were in training under her tuteledge, and colleagues alike, praised her calm demeanor in stressful situations and knowledgeble leadership. She was recognized as an honorary alumna of the St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing, and proudly attended the Alumni Annual Dinners.
When she retired, she devoted much of her time to volunteer programs such as Foster Grand-Parents, Loaves and Fishes, Metropolitan Family Services and many other organizations. She also provided nursing care at various senior centers in Portland, maintaining her license for many years. She was a faithful member of Pioneer Methodist and Central Lutheran Churches and enjoyed traveling and visiting with family and friends near and far.
Norma is survived by her son Steve Anderson and daughters Karen Anderson Peterson and Kristi Anderson, 17 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by 5 sisters: Cheryl McClellan, Helen Northup, Priscilla Stalker, Phyllis Dean and Elaine Shannon and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews and their spouses and children.
She was predeceased by her husband in January 1972 and 4 brothers.
A memorial service will be held Saturday June 12, at 1:00 PM at Pioneer Methodist Church, 7528 N. Charleston, Portland.
The family asks that all donations be given to Providence Hospice Foundation (6410 NE Halsey St, Portland, Oregon 97213-4742) in the name of Norma E. Anderson in gratefulness for their kind care.
Norma was known for her gracious, loving and joyous spirit and she will be missed greatly by family and friends.