Bertha Irene Norby, age 99, of Winona, passed away on October 25 at St. Anne’s Extended Healthcare, Winona. She was born on October 15, 1919, to Ethel (Nelson) and William Zimmerman in rural Morrison County near Royalton, Minn.
As the oldest of seven children growing up on a small farm in northern Minnesota she acquired her cooking and child-care skills at a young age. She married the love of her life, Burton O. Norby, on October 12, 1940, and enjoyed 54 years of marriage. He preceded Bertha in death April 1, 1994.
Bertha worked a variety of jobs as well as being a wonderful mom and homemaker. She was most proud of her many years with the Dayton’s department store’s pattern and fabric department in downtown Minneapolis. She inspired all her daughters to learn to sew both clothing and quilts. Upon retirement, Burt and Bertha moved to Pueblo West, Colo., where they built their lovely retirement home and pursued many interests, including gardening, travel, sewing, quilt-making, mineral collecting, and especially jewelry making and lapidary work in Burt’s shop. They were active members of the Pueblo Rockhounds and enjoyed excursions into the mountains of Colorado, Wy., Arizona and other parts of the country collecting minerals and crystals. During visits back to Minnesota they collected binghamite near Crosby, and explored and hunted amethyst near Thunder Bay, Canada. After Burt’s passing, Bertha learned to drive and got her first driver’s license at age 76. She stayed in Colorado for several years selling jewelry, flowers and produce at farmers markets in the region. Her award-winning dahlias were in great demand, as were her beautiful gemstone bead necklaces. She decided to move back to Minnesota in 1998 and settled in Winona.
While in Winona Bertha was active at Faith Lutheran Church in a variety of ways – baking dozens of cookies for the Martha Circle bake sales and assisting with church meals and special events. She continued creating beautiful quilts, one that received the Reserve Champion award at the Winona County Fair. She dearly loved helping her family with gardening and childcare when her grandchildren were young, was a member of the Winona Flower and Garden Club and generously shared her skills and life advice with others. She was also a member of the local YMCA and enjoyed water aerobics classes until she could no longer drive.
Bertha is lovingly survived by her four daughters, Marilynn Walker, Dianne (Dan) Kile, Jeanne Rist, and Janet (Eric) Heukeshoven; as well as sister, Martha Masden; and brother, Alan (Fay) Zimmerman; grandchildren, William (Candice) Walker, Kristina Rist, Hans (Julie) Heukeshoven and Max Heukeshoven; great grand-daughter, Kaylee; and numerous nieces and nephews and other relatives around the country. Bertha was preceded in death by her husband; parents; and siblings, Raymond, Carl, Mabel and Arnold.
A funeral service celebrating Bertha’s life will be held on Saturday, November 10, at noon with visitation starting at 11 a.m. at Faith Lutheran Church, Winona. A lunch will follow the service in the church’s Fellowship Hall. Memorials may be directed to Faith Lutheran Church or St. Anne’s Extended Healthcare. Hoff Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements; online condolences may be left for Bertha’s family at www.hofffuneral.com.