Norlene Thelma Peterson, 96, lifelong Panhandle resident, passed away Thursday morning, December 31, 2020.
The daughter of Oklahoma Panhandle pioneers, Beryl Ford and Vernon Norris, she was born August 3, 1924, on the family homestead near the Eva Community. Norlene and Loyd V. Peterson were united in marriage on May 20, 1949; meeting while they both taught at Unity School. They enjoyed 63 years of marriage, based on family, faith, church and community.
Education was a pillar of Norlene’s life, and she attended the Frontier and James Schools. After completing eighth grade in 1938, she began high school in Goodwell. During those years she worked for the O'Donnells, providing room and board while she attended school during the week. She went on to complete coursework at Panhandle A&M College, now Oklahoma Panhandle State University, and Oklahoma State University. While at PAMC, she met Archie Ingels and they married in 1944. Their story was cut short when Archie passed away in 1946. Norlene’s teaching career began in 1947 with positions at White Hall, Unity, Hardesty and finally Guymon Schools retiring in 1986. In 1991, she participated in a Distance Learning project teaching a math class, ahead of her time and ironically today her great grandchildren do coursework virtually. Chances are if you owned a set of World Book Encyclopedias, she sold them to you. Norlene never truly retired from teaching, as she was a fixture in many classrooms as a substitute teacher until well after her 90th birthday, even having her great grandchildren as students.
Church and faith were always important to Norlene and family. As a member of the First Christian Church, she served as a deacon, member of the Christian Education Group, nursery helper, and held offices in the Christian Women’s Fellowship group working on numerous local mission projects. Norlene was a proud member and officer of the Paul Scarlet Garden Club and served in various Board positions at the state level, including President of the Oklahoma State Garden Club from 1993-95. As a Guymon Parks Board Member, she was involved with the planning of the Centennial Park. Most Wednesday’s she could be found working as a “pink lady” as a life member of the Memorial Hospital Auxiliary. In 2003, she was honored by the Guymon Business and Professional Women as “Woman of the Year''. Norlene was the 2004 Pioneer Day Queen, and when asked what she loved about the Panhandle she said, “It’s always been home. Even during the Dust Bowl and Depression times it was hard living. My family has always been here and where they are is home.”
She is survived by daughter, Wynelda and husband, Curtis Miller of Enid; two sons, Kim Peterson and wife, Melissa of Guymon and Kye Peterson and wife, Anita of Liberal, Kansas; and sister-in-law, Leona and husband, Rod Rogers of Georgetown, Texas. Norlene took great pride in her grandchildren, Jana and Monte Wallace, Curt and Sharla Woolfolk, Amy and Mike Aichele, Jaime and Arlen Kauffman, Scott and Nicole Peterson, Nick and Chanci Peterson, and Kristen and Ryan Schoeling. However, her eyes would light up at the mention of her fourteen great grandchildren, Grayson, Gannon and Greer Wallace, Ava Woolfolk, Sarah and Emma Aichele, Conner and Nash Kauffman, Derek and Caeden Keenan, Faith Peterson, Hunter and Kelton Peterson, and Gracie Schoeling. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews and countless friends.
Norlene was preceded in death by her husbands, Archie Ingels (1946) and Loyd Peterson (2012), her parents, Vernon and Beryl Norris, siblings, Bernice Huddleston Shores, and Royce Norris.
Funeral services will be conducted Monday, January 4, 2021 at 2:00 pm at the First Christian Church with Rev. Randy Caddell and Pastor David Player officiating. Interment will follow in Elmhurst Cemetery.
Visitation will be held Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm with the family present from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the Henson-Novak Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be given to the Panhandle Promise Scholarship Endowment through the OPSU Foundation, to honor Norlene’s passion and legacy of teaching throughout her life, or to the Ronald McDonald House. Donations may be directed to Henson-Novak Funeral Directors, PO Box 1306, Guymon, OK 73942 or Panhandle State Foundation, P.O. Box 430, Goodwell, OK 73939
We will be observing COVID 19 guidelines by wearing masks and practicing social distancing.
Friends and family may sign the online guest book or leave a condolence at www.hensonnovak.com.
The Service will be livestreamed through our Facebook page on Facebook live at Henson~Novak Funeral Directors
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