Growing up in Kokomo, Norma Coleman always dreamed of living on a farm.
“I think it was partly because my parents both grew up on a farm,” she said. “Plus, as I child I used to go and stay for weeks at a time with aunts and uncles who owned farms.”
In 1950, Norma realized her dream when she married Harold Coleman and settled onto a dairy farm just west of Kokomo.
“Living on a farm was exceptional as far as I’m concerned,” she said. “I just love the rural life and working with dairy cattle. I couldn’t have imagined raising my kids anywhere else.”
Harold died in 1973, and Norma went to live with one of her sons on a farm near Wolcott. She would remain in Wolcott until 2010, when she moved to Greensburg to be near one of her daughters.
Norma’s farming days are behind her now, but she’s certainly got no shortage of memories upon which to draw as she spends her days in a cozy apartment at Greensburg’s September Place.
She turns 91 Thursday, and staff and residents at September Place celebrated by throwing her a party Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, Norma didn’t feel well enough to attend.
Not to worry, though, she didn’t spend the day alone. In fact, even Mayor Gary Herbert dropped by to present Norma with an official congratulatory plaque from the city for her milestone birthday.
Fortunately, she felt well enough to briefly speak with the Daily News, too, and share her opinions for the reasons behind her longevity.
Part of the equation, she said, lies in good genetics. Her mother lived to age 97, while her youngest maternal aunt passed away at 101.
“My mother’s older sister lived to be 93,” Norma said, “and her other five siblings lived well into their 80s.”
Her maternal grandfather lived to age 90, while her grandmother died at the comparatively young age of 75.
Norma’s father’s side isn’t quite as long-lived, but nonetheless mostly lived into their 80s (her dad lived to 78, while her paternal grandmother and grandfather made it to 81 and 90, respectively).
Norma also attributed her longevity to her sense of humor, to her Christian faith, to having lots of friends, to being an avid sports fan, to keeping herself busy through the years, and to a rich, fulfilling family life.
“Being a Christian has always been an important part of my life,” she said. “knowing that He’s going to see you through every day has been such a great help. And I’ve always been very active with my church. I love watching golf, but also football and basketball.”
Norma was born at home in 1922. Her father was an auto-electrician, the only one among five siblings not to pursue farming as a career.
She’s currently working on an all-encompassing history of her family. Despite working on the project for the past 10 years, she doesn’t plan to publish it.
“I want it to be as good as possible,” she said, “but it’s only for family and future generations. I want to make sure they know where they came from and what happened to their ancestors.”
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011