MISSOULA - Norma C. Mitchell, 81, of Missoula, passed away at the Riverside Health Care Center on Saturday, March 17, 2007.
She was born Oct. 9, 1925, to Clarence and Zella Christensen in Blackfoot, Idaho. She was the firstborn of eight children. Norma attended school in Lavaside and Firth, Idaho. Her parents had a large farm and she was used to working in the fields hoeing beets and beans.
Norma met the love of her life, Russell Tom Mitchell, at the home of Russ' grandmother in Lavaside. Norma was 16 and Russ was 19 when they were married at the home of Norma's parents on Dec. 31, 1941. They lived in Shelley, Idaho.
In the winter Norma and Russ worked side by side. Norma wrapped the meat Russ cut at several businesses, both in Shelley and Missoula.
On April 1, 1956, Norma and Russ moved to Missoula, where Russ, his father and brother became commercial beekeepers. Norma was the bookkeeper for the family business, “Mitchell Brothers Honey."
Norma loved to garden and grew the tastiest vegetables ever. She used to say, “Eat what you can and what you can't you can." She also loved flowers and had the house surrounded by beautiful beds of all kinds of flowers from early spring through late fall. She rarely left the house without a bouquet of her flowers for anyone she visited, and everyone who visited her left with flowers and/or vegetables. She especially loved the fruit trees around her home.
Norma was very active in the state and national Beekeepers Association. She served as state secretary-treasurer for years. She was very active with the Honey Queen program and hostess for the national visiting Honey Queens. She was also active in getting a Honey Queen program in Montana. Her granddaughter Shawna became the first Honey Queen for Montana.
She entered many homemade items in the Western Montana Fair, such as baked goods made with honey, beeswax candles and zipper art. She won a “best of show" with her zipper art. She also entered her crocheted and knitted items. The cookie jar at her home was ALWAYS full. She also made great homemade root beer.
She worked as an election judge for many years for Missoula County and only quit when she could no longer do the work.
She was active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Relief Society and the American Legion. She held many local and state offices for the American Legion and the 8&40.
She was a Brownie leader, Girl Scout leader and was a den mother in the Cub and Boy Scouts.
Norma could not sit down without a crochet hook or knitting needles in her hands. She also loved to quilt, especially with her sisters. She sewed Russ shirts of heavy denim and made them for others. She was very talented and when Russ retired they spent winters in Quartzsite, Ariz. She spent many hours learning new crafts in Arizona, such as zipper art, weaving, sand painting, and doll making.
She loved to go camping. Her greatest times were hunting and fishing. She has many trophies on the walls and books full of pictures of these excursions. Norma loved baseball. She would watch all of the Atlanta Braves games. She loved to attend the baseball games of her grandkids and later the great-grandkids - all were her pride and joy.
Surviving her are husband Russell of 65 years; daughter Julie Ann (Dick) Thurman of Florence; son William Russell (Tami) Mitchell of Missoula; nine grandchildren, Shawna (Marvin Berg), Russell Thurman of Missoula, Cherie Cook of Anchorage, Alaska, Tony (Debbie) Mitchell of Berryville, Ark., Wesley (Amy) Mitchell of Shelley, Melanie (Steve) Sida of Golden, Colo., Myron Dye of Magna, Utah, Tom (Luannie) Dye of Riverton, Utah, and Brett (Emily) Dye of West Jordan, Utah; great-grandchildren Justin Berg and Larissa Berg of Missoula, Jenifer (Chad) Petersen of Bountiful, Utah, Cynthia Cook of Chugiak, Alaska, Madison Sida of Golden, Rileigh, Renden and Payton Dye of Riverton, Austin and Preston Dye of West Jordan, and Kara and Garrett Mitchell of Berryville.
She is also survived by her brothers and sisters Rozella Christensen, Glen (Shirley) Christensen and Karen (Dorsel) Baden, all of Lavaside, Dell of Firth, Geri (Mel) Spooner of Blackfoot, Idaho, and Bonnie McInelly of Antioch, Calif.; and many nieces and nephews.
Preceding her in death were her daughter Barbara Jean Dye, brother Dick Christensen and parents Clarence and Zella Christensen.
As wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, her family will miss her.
Visitation will be 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. followed by services at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 22, at the Whitesitt Funeral Home, 314 Church St., Stevensville. A graveside service at Victor Cemetery will follow.
A reception will be held at the funeral home after the graveside services. Please come and join the family in remembering Norma. In her honor wear purple Thursday. This was Norma's favorite color.