In Loving Memory of
Norma Jean Hawkins Bell
May 19, 1929 – April 6, 2021
Virtual Celebration of Life Gathering was held on April 12, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
Norma Jean Hawkins Bell (Mum) passed peacefully surrounded by family at her home in Boca Raton Florida on April 6, 2021 at the age of 91. Norma may have passed from this life, but she lives on in those who knew and loved her. At the center of her life were people: her family, neighbors, and many dear friends.
Born in 1929 in Quenemo Kansas, to Aletha Crum and Charles Hawkins, she was the oldest of three. When the family lumber business failed during the Great Depression her mother became the postmaster to support the family while her aunt ran the local tearoom in Topeka. These events heavily influenced the path of her life. She attended Kansas University on scholarship and received a degree in speech pathology. Upon graduation in 1951 she married Norman Lee Bell, the love of her life. After living briefly at Patuxent River Naval Base in MD, and Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach FL, they moved to Huntsville, AL where she raised her family and taught special education in the school system, later serving as the director of special education for 18 years. She volunteered extensively while living in Huntsville – standing up to help those less fortunate, especially children through her work with Court Appointed Juvenile Advocates (CAJA). She believed that every child deserves the best chance that life can afford.
As the matriarch, all that was proper fun and exciting was considered fair game. When her feet hit the floor each day, she dared the devil to say: “oh crap, she’s up!”. She would often say that “..well behaved women rarely make history”. These embodied her spirit of life and her love of fun and good times with family, friends, and strangers. And in doing so, she taught us to draw the circle of life as wide as possible, to love, listen, and cherish one another.
Mum had a long-standing interest in genealogy and saw herself as the family historian, connecting the past to the future. She drew inspiration from the travails of the relatives that preceded her, providing a guiding light and inspiration for difficult times. She frequently recounted tales of her forebears: a young woman leaving England for a better life in America, or her beloved grandfather living on the prairie tending cattle for a summer with a horse and rifle. Another recounted a German immigrant boasting of his talents for singing, “I sing good because I sing loud.” These stories of family and country were frequently retold to her grandchildren who spent time with her and Norman every summer as they traveled US and Canada in their motorhome. Norma felt these stories were some of life’s most important lessons, along with fine chocolate and how to properly have a “backwards dinner”, enjoying your deserts first.
After her move to Boca Raton, Norma and Norman joined the United Methodist Church in West Boca. There she made many new friends that she came to adore. And as a group they were known as the Joy Club, meeting often at each other’s homes. They also enjoyed dining out together, always making sure to wear their hats.
Norma is survived by her husband Norman Bell, children Charles Douglas (Emmy) Bell and Barbara Bell (Brad) Baggett, six grandchildren, siblings Mary Lou Fitzgerald and Charles Hawkins both of California, and many, many friends and family members who were included in her vast circle.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, your local library, or another educational charity of your choice.