MISSOULA — Norma Owen Rossignol, 99-year-old pilot, golfer, artist, accountant, and crossword puzzle extraordinaire, left the world peacefully in the early morning on March 3, at Village Rehab in Missoula. Parents John and Alice Owen homesteaded in North Dakota, first moved to Glasgow, Montana, and then headed to Poplar where Norma Adelia Owen was welcomed to the world on Sept. 12, 1919. She joined siblings Ruth, Marian, Hazel and Jack.
John moved his family to Portland, Oregon, where he built cabins for the “city folk” along the shores of Lake Oswego. Norma had just begun the first grade, and her older brother kindly walked her to and from her new big city school. Soon the Owens returned to Montana, shuffling from town to town before settling in Woodworth just prior to the Great Depression. John worked for the Anaconda Company at the time.
Norma drove to Seattle to train for the Women Airfare Service Pilots (WASP), but before she could finish her training the war ended. Never one to idle, Norma returned to Montana, this time to study bookkeeping and accounting at Western Montana College in Dillon.
Norma met Richard “Dick” Rossignol in Missoula, and the couple wasted no time in getting married. Dick helped fulfill her unrelinquished dreams of flight by purchasing an airplane. At last, Norma completed training and earned herself a pilot's license. Dick ran a lucrative logging business and cattle ranch. Together the couple established Nightingale Angus Ranch in Lolo. Norma was the ranch’s accountant and bookkeeper, not to mention the elegant hostess of many parties and events. Norma and Dick brought two boys into the world 18 months apart, Paul and Richard Jr.
Norma traveled Europe with her sisters and is reportedly one of the first women in Missoula to choose pants over skirts. After Dick Sr. passed away, she not only raised her eldest granddaughter, but took up golfing and painting. Norma golfed well into her late 80s and painted flowers, birds, old barns, and churches with mediums ranging from oils to watercolor. Norma was preceded in death by her mother, father, sisters, brother, and husband. She is survived by sons Paul (and wife, Stacey) and Richard Jr. (and wife, Bobbie), three granddaughters, and four great-grandchildren along with beloved nieces and nephews.
Norma’s last years were spent close to her family. She was loved and admired by many. She flirted with every male nurse and held on to her wonderful sense of humor up to the very, very end. A mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother and caring friend, Norma’s passing leaves a great gap in many hearts. Rest assured, Norma left this world behind the wheel of her Navion airplane, and Sunday was a beautiful day to fly.
Funeral services will be held after the snow melts.