Norma's Story

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Norma J. Strukhoff, age 85, of Thomson, Illinois, formerly of Mount Carroll, Illinois, passed away Friday, March 24, 2017 at the University of Iowa City Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa. A funeral service will be held 1:00 p.m., Saturday, April 1, 2017 at Law-Jones Funeral Home, Mount Carroll. Burial will take place in Lower York Cemetery, Thomson. A visitation will be held from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., prior to the service at the funeral home. Memorials may be given in Norma's memory. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.lawjonesfuneralhome.com.
Norma Joanne Ashby was born April 9, 1931 the second daughter of James Glen ("Pat") and Mabel Gertrude (Smith) Ashby in Savanna, Illinois. She attended school in Mount Carroll and graduated with the Mount Carroll High School Class of 1949. She married Paul Strukhoff on October 12, 1952, at the Methodist Church (later known as the United Methodist Church) in Mount Carroll. They celebrated 48 years of marriage until Paul's death on January 7, 2001.
Norma grew up in the Depression and worked her entire life, starting at her parents' store Ashby's Grocery in Mount Carroll, then at Grimm's Cafe in Mount Carroll while in high school. She lost her right hand in an industrial accident in Fulton, IL in 1961, but never let this impede her in doing what she wanted to do. She worked as the cafeteria cashier for a generation of students in Mount Carroll's schools, worked for Oakville Country Club for many years, was a leading Sales Associate for several department stores in the Rockford-Beloit area for 14 years, and for the past 18 years has served as a greeter for Law-Jones Funeral Homes. She also owned the Mount Carroll Mirror-Democrat with her husband for many years, before selling it in 1980. She was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in Mt. Carroll, and sang with a strong alto voice in the church choir for more than 25 years.
Norma served as the de facto matriarch of the Ashby clan in recent years, tracing her family back to some of Carroll County's original settlers. The family's homestead was on Ashby Road in Wacker. In addition to Ashby and Smith, she had relatives in the Petty and several other local families.
Norma was an avid student while taking four years of Latin in high school, and read more than 10,000 books during her lifetime. She continued to read and enjoy words until the end of her life. Her favorite local writers included Bob Watson and Jon Whitney, to whom she offered copious advice on a regular basis. She was as free with her observations and insights to all whom she knew. She was also inspired as a young person by the keyboard artistry of local legends Vernon Ackerman and Art Isenhart, thereby setting an impossible standard for anyone in her family to meet. During most of her life, she had more energy than imaginable and could outwork the most diligent of her children and grandchildren.
Norma also enjoyed making up hundreds of her own unique recipes, as well as long walks for many years, and spending time with her many friends and family. She especially missed her husband as well as her good friend Sharon Coatney these past years, as well as numerous other close friends and relatives who passed before her.
Norma will be dearly missed by her two children, Roger Stephen (Lynn) Strukhoff of DeKalb, Illinois and Lee Ann (Philip) Schneider of Sterling, Illinois; five grandchildren, Marshal Paul Gillen of San Diego, CA, Alexandra Jordan (Jason) Elg of San Leandro, CA, Karl Stephen Strukhoff of Oakland, CA, Brynn Elizabeth Schneider of Sterling, IL, and Paul Vinas Strukhoff of Mabalacat, Philippines; as well as numerous beloved nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family, and friends. She was preceded in death by her husband, her parents, and two sisters, Bette (Richard) Gillespie of Gainesville, FL, and Glenda (Gilbert) Spencer of Janesville, Wisconsin.
Published on March 27, 2017
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