Norma Hattie Wright, 90, of Route 41, East Freetown, N.Y., died peacefully in her sleep Friday, April 20, 2012, attended by her daughter-in-law Michelle Wright.
She was born April 22, 1921, at "Round Top," Turner Hill Road, Texas Valley, the daughter of Howard Almon and Hattie Lola (Jones) Turner. Her early education, through eighth grade, was completed at the one-room school on Turner Hill Road. She then attended Marathon Central School. In her senior year, her education was interrupted by an automobile accident on Dec. 6, 1939. Norma spent the next four months in the Cortland Hospital and many years adapting to life with limited use of her right arm, hand and fingers On June 26, 1939, she married Gerald E. "Lanky" Wright at "Round Top" in Texas Valley. She was a full-time rural mail carrier out of the East Freetown Post Office during World War II, and part-time after the war. In 1943, Norma and Lanky purchased a dairy farm in East Freetown, naming it NorLanky Farm, milking cows until 1958. Norma was chief John Deere tractor operator; mowing, raking and baling hay on many farms in the area until 1998-99. In the winter of 1958, Lanky relocated his family to California, where he worked during the winters, returning each spring to work in East Freetown. Norma obtained her high school diploma in 1962 at William S. Hart High School in Newhall, CA.
Norma "The Apple Lady" and Lanky operated Wright's Fruit Service, which supplied apples and apple vending machines to most all of the schools within a 50-mile radius of East Freetown. They not only delivered the apples to the schools and put them in the machines, they also sold bagged apples to the grocery stores in the same areas. After the apple business was sold, Norma worked at The Optical Barr and Family Health Network. An early member of the East Freetown Home Bureau brought out her talent as a seamstress. She made many items of her own clothing, as well as her daughter April's senior class trip wardrobe. Her talents were challenged by school shirts for her sons Kevin and Kelly. It was difficult to complete the shirts before they out grew them! She served as a Republican committee person and an election inspector for the town of Freetown for 32 years, until macular degeneration made it difficult for her to continue. During her membership in the Cincinnatus Chapter of the Eastern Star, starting in 1947, she served as matron in 1953 with John King serving as patron. Norma was a very good bowler, learning to bowl with her left hand. She served as secretary to the Cincinnatus Women's Bowling Association at various terms during her bowling years. Norma was an avid reader of Western stories, especially by Louis Lamour, and watcher of Western movies with John Wayne. Audio books made it possible for her to continue with her love of books and magazines throughout her life.
She loved music including playing piano and singing harmony with her sisters. She also appreciated square dancing at the Texas Valley Social Club in the 1950s. One of the most memorable music events was when she got to see Elvis Presley live July 13, 1975, in Niagara Falls. The sport that Norma loved above all other was baseball and her beloved Yankees. All year long she was a baseball fan, keeping up on all the trades and changes with the help of Kevin and Kelly. She traveled to the Bronx with April's baseball trips many times. It was Norma that passed this passion on to her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Norma is survived by a daughter, April I. W. Horler of East Freetown; sons, Kevin (Michelle) of Cortland and Kelly of East Freetown: grandchildren, William III (Nola) of Moore, Okla., Scott (Beth) of Gales Ferry, Conn., Grace Wright of Colorado, Sarah, Stephen, Jason, Benjamn, Carrie Joy and Jennifer Lynn Wright of Cortland; great-grandchildren William Horler IV of Moore, Okla., Kayla K.I. Horler of Harpursville, and Mark and Enya Horler of Gales Ferry, Conn.; nieces and nephews in the Cortland area: Brenda Turner Cornell, Brian Turner, Douglas Welsh, David Welsh, Cathy Welsh Thompson, Ann Welsh Adams and Sharon Welsh; nieces and nephews out of state: Donald Hargrave, Sylvia Hargrave Leetch, Marcia Hargrave Ketcheside, Arthur Walls III, Jerry Hilsinger, Sandra Walls Maurer, James Hargrave, John Hargrave, Michael Hilsinger, Mardell Walls Vircks, Annette Hilsinger Sampson, Timothy Turner, Mark Hargrave and Melody Walls Stewart.
In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her husband of 63 years, Gerald E. Wright in 2003; her siblings, Irene (1919), Lela (Art) Walls (1963), Donald (Barbara) Turner (2003), Floyd (Verna) Turner (2006), E. Reeta (Ken) Hargrave (Tom) DeLano (2009), Marian (Ralph) Welsh (2010), Marie (Lowell) Hilsinger (2011); her nieces and nephews, Claudine Underwood Turner (1975), William Hilsinger (1997) and Barbara Turner Treadaway (2010).
An Eastern Star service by the Marathon Chapter will be held at the K. L. Sharp Funeral Home, Cincinnatus, at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, followed by calling hours at 1 p.m. Fred M.S. Downs will conduct Norma's funeral service at 2 p.m. Interment will follow at the Texas Valley Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Texas Valley Cemetery Association, c/o Rhoda Jones, 1563 Texas Valley Road, Marathon, NY 13803.