The following obituary was lovingly written by Norma’s family.
Norma Jean Culver Gardner went to be with her heavenly father at 3:55 a.m. on November 12, 2022. She was born on February 24, 1937 in her family’s farmhouse in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Although she was 85, she didn’t look a day over 70. She credited this mostly to Ivory Soap.
Norma was an active member and longtime Queen of The Grand Hatters, the Red Hat ladies group out of Grove, Oklahoma. She found great joy in dressing up and meeting the ladies for lunch. Norma also loved to go window shopping at flea markets and antique stores. She had an artist’s eye for putting things together and she loved seasonal decorating. She was a collector of china tea cups, tablecloths and décor, which she changed often. She loved to host Christmas and other gatherings for family and friends where she was not happy unless you ate, whether you were hungry or not. She was an avid and gifted gardener and she loved to start cuttings of flowers and green plants to share with others. Her favorite place was her sunroom where she did her daily prayer, devotionals and was surrounded by plants, a view of the woods, and enjoyed occasional coffee dates with her daughter or granddaughter. This was also the room where she would hose tea parties for her great-granddaughters. She liked to keep candy dishes in each room and her family managed to convince her that the kids need to be limited.
Norma was a woman with strong resolve and opinions, which she often didn’t mind sharing. This was always out of love and concern for her family members, but could be ill-timed. She didn’t always “read the room.” We would sure love some of her advice right now! That strong resolve was also evident in her faith and her prayer life, including the recent concern with her only daughter’s health; where in the words of her husband, Bob, “God was going to hear her and He was going to hear her now.”
She was a great listener and after prayer requests were shared at Bible Study, could recite every name and every need spoken, without writing anything down. Her husband often told friends, “If you need prayer, just ask Norma.”
Norma married Ralph Eugene Culver on July 11, 1959 and they were married 42 years. Together they had a daughter, Cindi, and she was a stay-at-home mom until Cindi went to school, where being the ultimate helicopter mom, she decided to get a job with the school. She worked in the Superintendent’s office at Baxter Springs Public Schools for many years. She supported Ralph while he worked a full-time job and pastored a church full-time, Keelville Church, which was the first Pentecostal church in America. After his passing, she had no plans to remarry, but five years later, ended up reconnecting with a school friend and classmate from the Baxter Springs Class of 1956, Bob Gardner. Bob was the boy who used to carry her books home from school in fourth grade. (She did love Hallmark movies.) They married on February 16, 2008, relocated to Grove, Oklahoma, and had almost 15 wonderful years together.
She loved being “Nanny Norma.” Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were her pride and joy. She loved to babysit them at their home and help out however she could. She would drive forty minutes to pick them up or go to school programs, when needed. She gave cards and treat bags for every holiday. She was great at showing her love through surprises and gifts.
She was preceded in death by her parents Ralph Eugene Price and Lennie Marie Baker Price; late husband, Ralph Eugene Culver; Colby Ray Culver, her ten-month old son; and her brother, Jerry Price. She is survived by her husband Robert Gardner of Grove, Oklahoma; her daughter, Cindi Dyer and son-in-law Steven Dyer of Jay, Oklahoma; her granddaughter, Jessica and David Tuttle of Grove, Oklahoma; her grandson Luke and Amy Dyer of Austin, Texas; granddaughter Keneesha and Richard Stoner of Miami, Ok; her sisters Linda and Charles McQuillan of Baxter Springs, Kansas; Lorna and Joe Martin of Hayes, Kansas and many nieces and nephews who lovingly call her “Aunt Sis.”
There will be a visitation on Wednesday, November 16, 2022 from 5-7 p.m. at Derfel’s Baxter Chapel in Baxter Springs, Kansas. A funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, November 17, 2022 at 2:00 pm at Derfelt’s Baxter Chapel in Baxter Springs, Kansas.
Because of the promise of Heaven and eternity, we know that we will see her again. To honor her memory, plant a flower, sing a hymn, or drink your morning coffee out of a fancy china cup.
In her own words, she is “29 & holding.”
Online condolences may be expressed at www.derfeltfuneralhomes.com.