Norma was born on March 22, 1927 to Lester and Daisy Stavenow (nee Hill), in the village of Swansea (now known as Bloor West Village in Toronto). She lived within five miles of where she was born until she was almost 95 when she moved to Stratford, Ontario – to a full care home near her daughter in early 2022. She married Dick (Richard) FitzGerald in 1946 at the age of 19. He predeceased her in 1991 after a long battle with various illnesses – the last being lung disease. She always had a positive outlook despite life’s many challenges.
She was actively involved with churches all her life, playing the piano for the United Church Sunday school starting at the age of twelve. She played the piano for St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Islington) for several decades and she played regularly at the retirement home that she resided in – which was within sight of her church; where she had been a member for about 70 years! She played for a Christmas carol sing along her last Christmas at the retirement home, at the age of 94.
Norma started her career in the village office of Swansea at the age of 17 and by 28 was the secretary to the president of Massey Ferguson. She left a few years later at the age of 34 to raise a family – first Eric and then Linda. By the time she was 40 she had gone back to work; this time for the Etobicoke Board of Education where she remained until her retirement at the age of 65. She was known for her cheerful disposition, her strong work ethic and her incredible typing speed, as well as her ability to take shorthand during meetings. It was during this time that she learned computer skills, which she kept honed into her 90’s.
She was involved with her grandchildren to the point of sometimes taking all four of them (Amanda and Nate and Thomas and Christen) for the March break week, during the school year. On more than one occasion she would take two of them on road trips in the summer, often to Arnprior in the Ottawa valley to visit her cousin Marion and her family. Norma had spent many summers through her childhood and teens in that area, as her parents came from Arnprior and Pembroke. She had the pleasure of welcoming her grandson’s wife Charlene in 2021. Her grandchildren are now in their late twenties and thirties and she was still in regular contact with all of them.
Norma had many friends over the years and some became long term friendships. She met her closest friend Jean Wansbrough shortly after she married. They were opposites in many ways, but were always there for each other and occasionally traveled together. Until Jean’s passing in March they resided in the same seniors home for 9 years where despite being able to see each other daily they still talked on the phone every night. Jean passed away after a fall just a few weeks after Norma moved to Stratford and just moments after they had spoken on the phone.
The move to Stratford and a full care home was instigated by Norma’s deteriorating mobility, but this made her dependent on others to get around. She started to use a power chair shortly after her move and within a few months could no longer manage it and moved to a state of the art “turn on a dime” non-power wheel chair, but this made her dependent on others to get around. Her inability to move about at will was as distressing as her inability to type e-mails or dial a phone significantly decreasing her ability to connect freely with those she loved, which was a very important part of her life. She was able to see family much more regularly (several days a week), but that only eased her stress a bit. She loved to get outside in the sunshine and watch the children at the public school across the street and she still enjoyed seeing something new. She still wore lipstick daily along with a piece of jewelry, though both were applied by staff for her. Norma passed from this life on October 29th to be with her Lord. Her life was an example of kindness and love to many, she will be truly missed.
Norma is survived by her son Eric and wife Joy FitzGerald, Amanda FitzGerald, Nate and his wife Charlene FitzGerald, Linda and her husband Tim Sparks, Thomas Sparks, Christen Sparks and her brother-in-law Jim Fitzgerald. She was predeceased by her Brother Murray Stavenow.
It was Norma’s wish to be cremated. A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church Islington, 3819 Bloor St. W., Etobicoke, ON. on Saturday, November 5, 2022 at 11 a.m.
Please, no flowers. Donations in memory may be made to World Vision (www.worldvision.ca) or St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Islington (www.standrewsislington.org), directly or through the James A. Rutherford Funeral Home (Rutherford Cremation & Funeral Services), 804 Ontario St., Stratford. 519-271-5062.