LIVINGSTON, Mont. — Norma J. Shapiro, formerly of Amboy, passed away at her home in Livingston, Mont. on Jan. 29, 2021.
Norma was born on July 5, 1929, in LaMoille, the eldest of five children of Marion and Bernice (McCray) Hall. She attended school there and was a graduate of LaMoille High School. She married David Shapiro on Sept. 15, 1947.
Upon completing dental school in 1952, Dave opened a dental practice in Amboy, and he and Norma, along with their daughters, Sarah and Debbie, moved to Amboy. While in Amboy, the family grew to include Peggy, Ned, Michael, Betsy and Daniel. While Dr. Shapiro was active with his practice and various civic affairs, Norma ran the household and was active in the community as well. She was a member and officer of the Amboy Woman’s Club, the Amboy Hospital Auxiliary, PEO, Central School PTA (for over 25 years!), the Lee County Republican Women, and the Sauk Valley College Foundation Board.
Norma was instrumental in the establishment of the Amboy Depot Museum, and was both a volunteer and officer of the museum commission until she moved to Montana in 1986. Additionally, she was the ultimate cheerleader for her husband’s political career and was by his side throughout his campaigning and his service in the legislature.
Norma’s most outstanding achievement, in a life filled with outstanding achievements, was in her role as a wife and mother of seven. In her world food was love. Every evening, the family was served a gourmet meal, and then before bedtime, she read a story aloud to her children. Sack lunches were prepared and packed each day, with sandwiches made from her homemade bread, topped off with desserts which she baked daily. Her daughters started each year of grade school with new dresses she made for them. She packed picnic lunches and organized bike rides to the park, taught her children card games and then spent hours playing with them, took them to the library and instilled in them a love of reading, planted and nurtured beautiful gardens, and ran a happy and organized household. Education and lifelong learning were key components to the life that Norma made. If you had access to a library card and the ability to read, you could figure out almost anything. She made sure her family lacked for neither. In her mind, there was never an excuse for being bored.
Norma was a finalist for “Mother of the Year” in 1983 at the University of Illinois Mom’s Day celebration, but her family knew that in reality, she was the mother of not just a single year, but of all time.
After Dave’s death in 1981, Norma served as an alderwoman on the Amboy City Council, continued her involvement with the Depot Museum and various other local activities, and was appointed to the Illinois State Board of Elections by Governor James Thompson. Prior to her move to Montana, the Governor proclaimed a “Norma Shapiro Day” in Illinois, in recognition of her many contributions to the state. When she arrived in Montana, she once again became immersed in civic responsibilities. She was a member of the Friends of the Library, the Depot Museum, the Upper Yellowstone Defense Fund and PEO. She was politically involved, as a member of the county’s central committee, and ran a bed and breakfast at her home. She enjoyed life in Montana to the fullest. Many a good day was spent with her dear friend Marge Warfield as they hiked the trails just outside Norma’s front door, and enjoyed a glass of wine afterward. On these treks and many other adventures, she was accompanied by one or more of her faithful, much loved canine companions.
In recent years, illness had slowed Norma and robbed her of her ability to remain active in the community. Even so, she maintained an interest in the world around her, and enjoyed reading, (both new works and old favorites by Agatha Christie and P. G. Wodehouse), spending time with family and friends, and keeping in touch with far-flung relatives through regular phone calls. She also enjoyed occasional visits from her friends in the neighborhood. During the pandemic, she was able to enjoy regular zoom gatherings with her family.
Norma was preceded in death by her husband, Dave Shapiro, her parents and her siblings, Lois Guthrie, JoAnn Cassidy and Richard Hall.
She is survived by her brother, Robert (Judy) Hall; her children, Sarah Shapiro Hurley (Sarge Hoem), Debbie (Mike) Pontarelli, Peggy (Jim) Horstman, Ned, Michael (Gloria Deason), Betsy (Bob O’Donnell) and Daniel; her grandchildren and great-grandchildren; brother-in-law, Mike Cassidy; sisters-in-law, Beverly Hall and Vivian Shapiro; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to thank her dedicated caregivers for their care of and devotion to the wellbeing of Norma, and the equally wonderful hospice nurses and staff, particularly Alex Laughlin. Without their loving attention, she would not have been able to attain her wish to stay in her home.
A private memorial will be held when COVID-19 conditions permit. May Norma’s memory be a blessing for all who had the pleasure of knowing her.
Donations may be sent in Norma’s memory to the Amboy Depot Museum, for establishment of a research area named in her honor, at 227 E. Main Street, Amboy, IL 61310, or to the Pankhurst Memorial Library, 3 S. Jefferson Ave., Amboy, IL 61310.