Norma Louise (Howell) Gust, 90, passed peacefully after a full and rewarding life on Thursday October 6, 2022 in Bellingham, Washington. Norma was born September 28, 1932 in Spirit Lake, Idaho to Clarence and Violet Howell of Rathdrum Idaho.
Norma’s family moved around the Northwest during her early years as her Dad was in the logging and lumber business. Concrete, Washington was one of the stops. Rathdrum was always their main base and where the family finally settled.
Her Dad came from a big family so there were lots of cousins to play with growing up. Helping with housework, working in the garden, going to school, being a kid, took up her time. Mom was an early crusader for women’s equality by being the first female scorekeeper for the boy’s high school basketball team!
Mom was an excellent student and enrolled at the University of Idaho. She only lasted a year. After two dates with a 20 year old senior, George W. Gust, Jr., they both knew there would be no turning back.
Norma and George were married on July 11, 1951 and remained so for 70 1/2 years until his passing March 6, 2022. Mom passed seven months to the day after Dad.
And what a whirlwind romance! They were so in love with each other. Always doting on each other from day one. Both giving the other unexpected welcomed, gifts. A couple made for each other, always supportive of one another.
Norma was a homemaker, a job that never pays enough. Mom never had a driver’s license, didn’t want one. Four kids were born in five years….Dad said every time he dropped ‘trou’, Mom got pregnant.
Mom was Den Mother for Cub Scouts, ‘owie’ fixer, a cheerleader for all the kids teams and events no matter the weather or the score, a fantastic cook….incredible maker of PB&J….fish cleaner…. 2 week family station wagon vacations with 4 young kids and a dog….WOW! What A Mother!
A great mom for us kids!
Norma was the ‘Hostess with the Mostess’! Mom and Dad would host dinners at the house for his Board of Directors from the Bank and other dinner parties. Mom would do all the food preparation and cooking, from appetizers to dessert. They were all excellent meals. A lot of recipes were given out at the end of the night.
Mom was an avid reader, she read thousands and thousands of books. One wall of their bedroom at home in Bellevue, Washington was a bookshelf. When she could no longer read, Mom would listen to audio books. Norma was also a longtime Docent for the Bellingham Museum.
Planes, trains, cars and cruise ships were their mode of transportation all over the world. History was a favorite subject of Norma’s, so trips to places she’d read about were very exciting. A visit to Washington D.C. to have lunch with the US Secretary of State was always a highlight for her.
Retirement years were spent traveling the world with family and friends, wintering in Arizona, summers in Bellingham, their permanent home for the past ten years.
Norma loved yellow roses, lemons and hippos. She had an extensive and varied collection of over a thousand hippos from all over the world!
EVERYONE who came into contact with Norma always said how kind and friendly she was, like your best longtime friend.
Norma deeply loved her family. She was welcoming and loving to her children's future spouses from the moment they met. ‘Grandma’ was always asking and interested about what was happening with her grandchildren and great grandchildren.
We were so lucky to have George and Norma as our parents.
What a journey for a girl from Rathdrum, Idaho!….What an incredible journey!
And it’s not over yet as Norma and George are right now cheek to cheek with their dancing shoes on!
Norma is survived by son George (Marion), daughter Lynne (Pat), son Bryan (Debra), son Carl (Regan). 8 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren. She was proceeded in death by her husband George, parents, 2 brothers and a grandson.
Internment with a brief graveside service for Norma and George will be Tuesday October 18, 2022 at Pine Grove Cemetery in Rathdrum, Idaho.