Nature 09

Norma Jean (Wright) Harger

October 24, 1929 ~ November 9, 2021 (age 92)

Obituary

Norma Jean Harger, age 92, of Munising, passed away peacefully Tuesday morning, November 9, 2021, at Munising Memorial Hospital.  Norma was born on October 24, 1929, in Anderson, Indiana to Harold and Crystal (Huff) Wright.  Norma’s family moved to Lansing, Michigan where she attended Cedar Lake Academy and graduated third in her class.  Norma attended Andrews University and earned an Associate’s Degree in Business Management.  She took a job with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) at the Houghton Lake Wildlife Area Field Office where she met Elsworth “El” Harger and began her most important life-long role as wife and mother. They were married on August 31, 1952.  El’s DNR management position took the family to the U.P. in 1958 where they raised their children who were all born in Munising. 

“Before us lie the golden opportunities to serve” was deeply instilled in Norma when she graduated from Cedar Lake Academy.  This quote became her motto and she spent her lifetime serving as a volunteer in Munising, Alger County, the Upper Peninsula, and the State of Michigan.   Norma was a lifelong health promoter, and she shared her passion as an instructor of tennis, dance, swimming, cross country skiing, walking, running, belly dancing, aerobics and nutrition.  Her motto was “If it involves movement, I’m probably involved.” She and El created, organized, and directed the Pictured Rocks Road Race for twenty-one years.  Norma served as State Commissioner for the statewide Torch Run, assisted organizing the U.P. Road Runners Club, directed the Munising Public School gym and swim classes, served on the Governor’s Board of Physical Fitness, Health, and Sports, the Hospital Auxiliary and the steering committees for the Alger County Health Fair and March of Dimes Walk/America in Munising.  She was co-chair of the Alger County Centennial celebration, but one of her greatest rewards came from serving on the Board of the Great Lakes Training Center Association of Northern Michigan University (NMU) which brought the nation’s only Olympic Education Center to NMU.  Norma was also involved with the East Channel Lighthouse Rescue, Friends of Valley Spur, Munising Tennis Association, Alger County Historical Society, Alger County Animal Shelter, the Elm Street Player’s Drama Club, the Chamber of Commerce, Yard and Garden Club of Alger County, and the Pollinator’s Garden at the top of Cemetery Hill.

Norma was recognized with many achievement awards and accolades throughout her life including:  the NMU President’s Award to a Distinguished Citizen, U.P. Community Education Recreational Leadership Award, Alger County Board of Commissioners Resolution of Appreciation for her work with the Centennial festivities and fundraising, James E. Tretheway Award from the U.P. Sportswriter’s Association, U.P. Road Runner of the Year and Inspirational Award, contributor of the year from the Michigan Runner magazine, Distinguished Service Award from the Alger County Kiwanis Club, Alger County Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of a Lifetime Award, Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International, Edward Guest Award from the Grand Island Masonic Lodge, U.S. Forest Service Public Service Honor Award, and she was enrolled into the Alger County Women of Honor in 1997. 

Together, Norma and El were quite a duo.  They enjoyed each other’s company and loved to square dance as members of the Hiawatha Hillbillies Square Dance Club. Norma also entertained us with her love of belly dancing with her dearest lady friends.  She cherished her memories of family vacations and two trips to France and other European countries for El’s WWII 40th and 50th anniversaries. His paratroop unit jumped into southern France to liberate France. Norma and El were married over 53 years when he unexpectedly preceded her in death on December 28, 2005.

Norma is survived by her sister – Penny (Robert) Ancel, stepchildren -René Harger, and Janet Harger, children – Greg (Lisa) Harger, Lisa (Tom) Nelson, Kirk (Kathy) Harger and Sheila Harger, grandchildren – Lórien (David Feighner), Brent (Jessica Rose), Jessica (Mike Jerome), Michelle (David Deardorff), Kaitlyn, Chantelle (Ryan Wood), Jamie (Jonathan Fargo), Stephen (Christine), Heather (Josiah Coates), Justin (Megan), Thomas, and Crystal and great-grandchildren – Avery, Alexis, Patrick, Oliver, Theo, Landon, Myra, Grant, Judah, Abram, Kyren, Ian, and Ainsley.

A memorial celebration is being planned for Spring of 2022.  Memorial contributions are requested to be made to the Munising High School Cross Country Team or the Alger County Animal Shelter in Norma’s name.


Services

A service summary is not available

Donations

Munising High School Cross Country Team
810 West M-28, Munising MI 49862

Alger County Animal Shelter
510 E. Munising Avenue, Munising MI 49862
Tel: 1-906-387-4131

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