Aug 2nd 1934 - May 8th 2012
One couldn't help but love Norma Olson-Crane. Her fun-loving nature was infectious as she used her rather dry sense of humor to enlighten the days of others. A resilient woman, she was strong of heart which helped her through some of the most trying times of her life. As the mother of seven, she filled their bustling home with love through ways all her own which will never be forgotten.
Norma Jean was born at a time when families struggled through the hardships of the Great Depression, and impending war overseas. People found joy in the little things in life, like gathering around the radio to listen to favorite programs or baseball, and movie entertainment allowed many to free their minds from everyday worries at the local theaters. It was in the midst of these challenging times when Ernest and May (Allen) Kinser welcomed Norma Jean into their hearts. On August 2, 1934, she was born in her Kalamazoo, Michigan family home in the early morning hours by a local midwife.
The youngest of the four Kinser children, Norma's father worked as a truck driver while her mother was employed at Gilmore's hand-stitching carpet binding. Having attended the area schools, she received her early education in Kalamazoo at Roosevelt Elementary, and like many during this era, attended school through the 8th grade. A fun-loving girl, Norma enjoyed having fun with friends and especially liked going to dances.
Well into her teen years, Norma secured her first job working as a roller-skating car hop. The day Jack Olson stepped into her life literally changed the course of her days. He was a handsome young fellow who worked at the Gulf Gas Station nearby at Riverview and Gull Road. When he flat out told her he was going to marry her one day, Norma's reply was, "We'll see about that!" As fate would have it, their romance blossomed and on August 25, 1951, they became husband and wife.
Norma and Jack soon set out to begin a family of their own, and before they knew it, they had seven wonderful children to share their love. Sadly, Norma experienced the painful loss of a child when her two year old daughter, Paula Jean died in 1963. It was a very difficult time for her, yet through unyielding strength, Norma carried on to raise the children she was so blessed to call her own.
Jack and Norma lived across from Long Lake. She absolutely loved living there, and it provided many memorable as well as adventurous times over the years. She enjoyed nothing more than fishing with her cane pole and going for a relaxing pontoon ride around the lake. Taking care of her family brought Norma contentment. She made a good home for Jack and the kids along with having a knack for cooking. She made many family favorites, especially during the holidays and special times of the year. In particular, Christmas and Thanksgiving were Norma's favorite holidays as they brought her family together which always warmed her heart.
After Norma's beloved husband, Jack died in 1997, she knew she had no choice but to pull herself back-up and continue to move on. Her strength of heart was an example to all, especially during this trying time in her life. She learned how to drive their motor home, and traveled periodically as a member of the Good Sam's Camping Club. She also held membership with the VFW Auxiliary. Although not much into material gain, she did cherish her collection of angels and several dolls.
In time Norma began enjoying the companionship of Stephen Crane with whom she married in 2001. Together they loved going out dancing, and always had a great time in each others company. She loved country music, along with country west, and seemed to always refer to them both as separate types of music genres. While in the hospital recently, Norma liked listening to Christian music on TV, often referring to it as her "heaven music". Her dry sense of humor continued into her later years which always brought bright smiles to those around her.
As Norma's health began to deteriorate, she made mention in her last days how she was ready to dance with Jack again in heaven. While death separates us for a time, it can never take away the years of wonderful and special memories left behind by one so dear. Norma will be deeply missed.
Norma Jean Olson-Crane, of Vicksburg, passed away Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at the age of 77. She is survived by her husband, Stephen; six children: Ronald (Brenda) Olson of Kalamazoo, Dennis (Karen) Olson and David (Kim) Olson, both of Vicksburg, Karen (Tom) Dillon of Galesburg; Brenda (Mike) Kuis of Vicksburg, Jack Olson of Scotts; her stepdaughter, Denise Crane of Parchment; eleven grandchildren and eight great-grand-children.
Norma's family will receive friends on Friday, May 11, 2012 at the Life Story Funeral Home, 409 S. Main Street, Vicksburg (649-1697) from 11:00 AM until the time of the funeral service at 1:00 PM. Burial in Riverside Cemetery in Kalamazoo. Those who wish may make memorial contributions to the Salvation Army. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to share a favorite memory of Norma, to submit a photo of her and to sign her online guest book.