• Acacia Memorial Park & Funeral Home
    Seattle, WA
In partnership with the Dignity Memorial® network
Jerry Lee Norman 1936 - 2012
Print   Close
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
When I first started at UW I was having trouble registering for first year Chinese as it had been filled up. Chen Laoshi told me that a new section had opened up and we would be getting a special treat, Dr. Norman would be teaching first year Chinese to us.
I've never had a more talented and patient language teacher. His demeanor was always supportive. He always had time, even for the newest Freshman on campus. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to learn from such an esteemed scholar. He will be missed by all his former students.
I offer my condolences to his family and my eternal gratitude to Dr. Norman himself.
Friday, September 21, 2012
I had the honor and perhaps the audacity to call Jerry a colleague, even though he was the most professional of linguists and I a mere amateur dabbler. Still I relish the times I sat with him and talked Min vocabulary and such arcana. He was not only modest and unassuming in his erudition, as so many have said, but he always gave the impression of having *fun* with Chinese and its dialects. I also loved his book on Chinese, which I still consult whenever my language-geek personality takes over.

Stella Laoshi, and your children, please accept my inexcusably late condolences.
Saturday, September 08, 2012
When Dr. Norman passed away, I was in China, where I could not get access to the internet. I was deeply saddened to learn it. Dr. Norman was a great scholar and wonderful teacher, as well as a kind mentor. I remembered a story just after I arrived in Seattle. Dr. Norman took Janet and I went to visit an aquarium. Right after we got off the bus, we started to run. According to Chinese culture, we should fight for buying the tickets regardless we had the money or not. Of course Dr. Norman bought the tickets for us. He laughed and said: “I am very happy to bring you to the aquarium, but just don't let me run that much!” Dr. Norman was just like a great friend although he was really my respectful teacher. While I was at UW, he was always very kind and friendly. Dr. Norman was a great scholar. I always think it would be great if I know a small part of what he knew. After I started to teach at Princeton University, Dr. Norman kept close contact with me to help my dissertation. He gave me strong influences in many ways. I will miss Dr. Norman a lot. My deepest condolences to Chen Laoshi and the family.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Beeimen and I first met in January 1971. Since then, forty-one years have elapsed; and during that time our lives have been linked in innumerable ways both personal and intellectual, to a degree that often seemed to both of us almost uncanny. Now fate has ordained that we must part, and for me the path ahead appears cold and desolate. But perhaps it will still be brightened in some small measure by the memories that will live on as long I have life. Vechnaya pamyat'.

Nanlin
Saturday, July 21, 2012
I was out of the country when Jerry passed away and learned only today of this sad occasion. I was not a specialist on China or linguistics, but in the world of Asian Studies at the University of Washington, I quickly came to admire Jerry for his quiet, friendly and engaging approach to his colleagues and his students. He wore his learning lightly--a model that many of his
students inculcated and that we all might do well to copy. I extend albeit belately my condolences to Stella and Jerry's wider family, and share in the grief of a wide world of friends, who may also draw comfort from having had the privilege of knowing Jerry, even for a short while.
Friday, July 20, 2012
An excellent scholar and superb teacher, Jerry Norman was also one of the most decent people I knew. When I began my graduate program at the University of Washington, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of taking his introductory Manchu course along with what he jokingly (maybe not) called the largest group of Manchu speaking-people in the world--the other beginning Manchu students in the class. He was exceedingly patient with us. Much later in my lengthy graduate career I was thrilled to take his Chinese historical phonology courses. I was grateful to him for his gentle corrections and his easy laugh. As a premodern literature student, everything I did that related to rimes and sounds of the period on which I worked was shaped by those classes (even if he might have wanted to dissociate himself from my efforts!). With a smile, I remember one summer in Taiwan many years ago Grace telling humorous stories of home life with her dad, while we labored in a English textbook “sweatshop” run by one of Professor Norman's former grad students. Lastly, I fondly recall an evening cracking, smashing, and devouring Old Bay-seasoned Maryland blue crabs at a crabhouse up the road here in Bethesda with Professor Norman, his wife Stella, and another of his former grad students, David Branner (and one of David's colleagues)--it must have been several years ago now. That was the last time I saw him. I will always remember Jerry Norman for his dedication to studies, for the faith that he gave witness to through his actions (even if I only knew of his religious persuasions secondhand), and for his generous spirit. My sincere condolences especially to his wife and children.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Jerry was the kindest, modest, and most generous scholar that I have ever known in my life. I love his voice, his laugh, and of course the lectures that he gave our students on Chinese languages, linguistics, and dialectology at WWU. He will be deeply missed by us all.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Prof. Norman was a great scholar, a great teacher, and an even better person. He was my teacher at the University of Washington. I was a mediocre student at best, but he was always extremely understanding, patient, helpful and kind. Throughout my struggles he was always encouraging and would constantly reassure me that everything would be fine. During the eulogy at his service a very private and personal side of Prof. Norman was discussed: His strong faith and deep spiritual nature. While this may have been an extremely private aspect of Prof. Norman, it clearly manifested itself in his way of being. I always considered Jerry to be a friend and I was very fortunate to have him in my life.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Jerry Norman was both an extraordinary scholar of Asian linguists and a wonderful teacher and friend. Our Department of Asian Languages and Literatures, as well as the University of Washington, has lost a treasured colleague. I and my wife Jo extend our heartfelt sympathy to Stella and the rest of the Norman family at this time of loss.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Prof. Norman was one of the greatest Western specialists in the Manchu language. His everlasting contributions to Manchu lexicography as well as to the historical Manchu and Tungusic phonology cannot be overestimated.

Alexander Vovin
University of Hawai'i at Manoa/National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
We are deeply saddened by the passing of our beloved uncle Jerry. He has always been the noble and estimable scholar in our whole extended family who we have the highest regard and admiration for. We are very humbled by the fact that this man of Russian descent spoke more Chinese dialects than we do. His work on the Manchu dictionary is more in touch with Chinese roots than we can ever understand. In one of the Chinese literature classes we took at UC Berkeley, his name was in the textbook that we used. In addition, when we frequented the East Asian Library on campus, we saw that he is honored with a name plaque on display. Those were one of the proudest moments in our student lives. He was an avuncular figure, whose laughs are forever genuine and cheerful in our minds. His religious belief and passion for his work gave him such calm and peace in the face of this debilitating terminal illness. We were amazed that he was doing his daily reading and research as if another day was simply another day. His bravery and legacy will live on in our memories. We are so grateful and proud to have known him. We will miss his gentle demeanor, his contagious laugh, his quiet passion and his dignified bearing.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Da Gu Ma, our cousins and their loved ones. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Dr. Jerry Norman was a brilliant scholar, great husband and a wonderful father. He was very easy to talk to and made the best bread in Seattle. I will always remember the fatherly advice he would always give me whenever I visited his home. Thank you Dr. Norman for the sound advice and the many loaves of bread that kept my friends and I fed during my years at the University of
Washington.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I took several classes of Prof. Norman and also wrote an MA thesis on a Min dialect. Although he was already retired at that time, he kindly read my thesis and gave me many comments and suggestions. He was always nice to students. His smile was a great encouragement to us and always warmed my heart. I will remember him not only as a model scholar that I should emulate for the rest of my life, but also as a very nice person. I pray for him and his family with al my heart.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
I began my study of Chinese under Dr. Norman as an awed undergraduate. He inspired and nurtured my wonder about Chinese, its history and its dialects; and I did my graduate work with him as my advisor and encouraging mentor. Dr. Norman was a teacher of subtle skill and great patience. He was a man of profound humility and easy humor, and a scholar of endless curiosity, immense knowledge, incredible penetrating insight, and lasting impact. His genius allowed him to discover the larger picture through a preternatural command of the details. His kind generosity led him to impart his knowledge humbly, with lucid simplicity, and without a trace of arrogance. He had a powerful influence on my life's direction and pursuits, an influence of a depth like that of my own father. He shall live on in all of our hearts and our work.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
In every way and aspect, Professor Jerry Norman was the top scholar in the field of Chinese outside of China. We and all of our friends deeply respect him and mourn his passing.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
In memory a scholar

Of the many celebrities brushing us by
Most are a number, some, a meaning, somehow.

Fewer we learn of with scholarly bows,
Meager, your kind, who makes us seek ‘why'.

Though I know you not as family or friend,
Here's a toast to you with saddened cheers...

An ox turned immortal in a dragon's year,
The life of a legend, a beginning, no end
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Professor Norman was an amazing man. Gentle in his own way who always welcomed me with a smile on his face. He will be greatly missed.

Thank you, Chen Lao Shi for always welcoming me to your home. I will miss him. Justin, Grace, Anne & Catherine, I'm so sorry for your loss.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
My advisor and mentor, always encouraging me through the intricacies and beauty of Chinese language.
My thoughts and prayers for the Family in this time of transition.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I had the great privilege to work on Manchu with Jerry intermittently over the last several years. I am deeply indebted to him and his family for the incredibly generous welcome I always received. Jerry was the kindest, most devoted scholar: he absolutely delighted in sharing his knowledge, time, and resources with his students and colleagues.

As for his scholarship, I can say without exaggeration that not a single day goes by when I do not consult at least one of his many lasting contributions. As others have written, he was working, working, working until the very end. I take some comfort in this fact, as it was always clear, to anyone who ever met him, how much fulfillment he derived from the work.

Jerry is sorely missed.

Profoundest sympathies--and gratitude--to his whole family.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Jerry Norman was a scholar's scholar who enlightened all of us in the field of Chinese studies. However, he also was adept at explaining what Chinese was to non-specialists. His book simply titled _Chinese_ (Oxford; 1988) was a classic that all should read. He made a great contribution to his field and was a good man.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
You are in my thoughts and prayers as we think of you during this difficult time. May God's Grace strengthen you and your family and may your hearts and souls find peace and comfort in God's warm embrace.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I am privileged to have had the opportunity to study Chinese historical phonology and Manchu with Jerry Norman. He was an incredibly gifted teacher, an exemplary scholar, and a great inspiration to us all. I send my deepest condolences to the Norman family and to the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Washington.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
To me, Jerry Norman is both a teacher and a friend. His outstanding contributions to Chinese language studies, esp. his view of Chinese chronological strata, changed the way we look at the Chinese language. We Chinese scholars have benefited a lot from his academic findings. We will miss him. My condolences to his family and friends.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The world of linguistics - not just Chinese, linguistics, or Manchu linguistics, or Tungusic linguistics - has lost a great scholar and fine gentleman.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I went to UW after Professor Norman's retirement, but was very fortunate to have taken courses with him on Chinese historical phonology and Min dialects. Later the more I learned about those fields, the more I felt in awe of his profound knowledge, insightful thinking, and remarkable keenness to language, and, at the same time, appreciated his gentle and kind personality. Professor Norman left this world, but his research work and spirit will long nourish and inspire us. My condolences to Professor Norman's family.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I will always remember Jerry as an inspiring scholar and one of the kindest persons I have ever met.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Professor Jerry Norman was a scholar of great linguistic insight. I am sure he will be remembered by generations of linguists in China.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Jerry Norman was a brilliant thinker and scholar. His academic papers and presentations were always models of clarity and precision. Jerry's expertise and knowledge ranged over an astonishingly wide array of languages and topics. He loved to do fieldwork; the precision of his ear was legendary, and the data he gathered on his many forays to remote parts of China continues to serve scholars as a valuable resource. Jerry brought new techniques and approaches to the study of Chinese linguistics, which, thanks in part to the work of his students, continue to influence the field in America, Europe, and Asia.

I had long admired Jerry's work, which was introduced to me by my teacher Ting Pang-Hsin, but it was only after I moved to Seattle and began interacting with him on a regular basis that I understood what a fine man he was. For a man of his learning and talents, it was a shock to discover how humble he was about his own work, and how interested he was in the work of others, from the most accomplished scholars to the greenest of young students. After his retirement he was selfless in continuing to teach and mentor students across the globe.

Jerry loved nothing more than to chat with friends, colleagues, and students about the many subjects that interested him; the memories I will treasure most are of the talks we had in his living room, from which I learned much about scholarly research, but even more about how to be a good human being. He will be dearly missed.
Monday, July 09, 2012
I have the honor to visit him a month ago.
We had a nice chat. Chen Laoshi kindly gave us the privilege to visit his study room. I was glad to see he was still revising his Manchu-English dictionary and preparing a paper on Proto Min soften-initials.
That was quite sudden to me.
I think we still owe him a collection of his papers on Min to be published in mainland China. I hope I can make some contribution in this regard.
My deepest condolences to Chen Laoshi and the rest of the Professor Norman's family.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Jerry Norman was my cousin. I only saw him a few times during his life, but I heard many stories. I want to share a bit of this lore. Jerry came from a very humble background. He was born into an extended family of what today we would call migrant farmworkers. In 1936, they were called “Okies” and John Steinbeck wrote a novel about the experience of families like Jerry's – it's called the Grapes of Wrath.

Jerry's accomplishments in life were beyond the imagination of his family. They did not always understand the significance of what he did, but they loved him and were very, very proud of him.

My favorite memory of Jerry was when he came to visit us 50+ years ago after somehow getting permission at the height of the Cold War to take the Trans-Siberian railroad across the Soviet Union. In those days, I spent a few minutes every Friday afternoon hiding under my desk at school for our weekly atomic bomb drill. My cousin conveyed to me that these scary people who might decide to blow us into nothingness were really just people like us. There was hope.

My heartfelt condolences to Jerry's friends and family.

Mark Northcross
Monday, July 09, 2012
I had the privilege to have studied Historical Phonology and Early Mandarin with Professor Norman after his retirement from UW, and had him on my dissertation committee. Professor Norman was a kind, nice, cheerful and patient mentor, and always smiled. It is really sad that he had left us, but i am sure we will always miss him. My condolences to Professor Norman's family.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Although I only met Jerry a few times in person when I came to conferences and lectures in Seattle, our acquaintance feels much deeper and longer, going back to my student days in the 80ies, when I first devoured his work on Chinese dialectology and everything he wrote ever since. He has been a true giant in so many linguistic fields, someone who I will continue to admire for his scientific creativeness, independence of mind, argumentative precision, consistency and clarity.
Monday, July 09, 2012
As part of the next generation of scholars who studied under Professor Norman, we're indebted to him for his broad-ranging, detailed research, patient teaching, and intellectual generosity. I remember his delight in getting a Manchu text analysis class occasionally conversing in Manchu. My condolences to the Norman and AL&L families.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Jerry taught me so much how to teach and how to learn. He was a wonderful mentor. I will never forget his encouragement, his honesty, and his laugh.
Monday, July 09, 2012
I was very fortunate to have been one of Jerry Norman's students in the early 1980s. He was warm, caring, patient, and ever so generous with his time, his field data and other resources. I learned ever so much under his tutelage. And he was a wonderful role model. I will always remember, also, his ever ready smile and his quiet chuckle. I cherish the many happy memories of studying with him, and engaging in many Chinese linguistics activities, from organizing presentations for the Chinese Linguistics Circle of the Pacific Northwest (dubbed by Mantaro Hashimoto) to organizing the 16th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. He will be sorely missed.

My deepest condolences to Stella and the rest of the Norman family.
Monday, July 09, 2012
To me, Jerry was a model of what a fine scholar should be: bold, honest, careful, and without a trace of arrogance. It is a great privilege to have known him.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Jerry Norman was a very kind person who served as a member of my Ph.D. committee shortly after F.K. Li retired from the Univ of Wash. I have learned much from Jerry in person as well as from his solid scholarly work. It was only a few days ago I saw him last, and his mind was just as clear as before, but it was "idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis" that took his life. Alas, we lost yet another great individual and a true scholar.
Ken Takashima (currently in Seattle)
Monday, July 09, 2012
Although we exchanged a few emails, I met Jerry only once when he showed off his new English Manchu dictionary to a second year Mongolian class at Harvard with Bosson. I had written what was essentially my first real paper about personal pronouns in Tibetan. He was extremely encouraging and kind and charming. I have often thought of him fondly since, esp. after the publication of his Festschrift.
Monday, July 09, 2012
Jerry Norman was a magnificent scholar, a generous teacher and a kind man. I owe him much. Francoise and I express our condolences to Stella, his children and his grandchildren. May you all find peace and comfort in the memory of a life lived so very well. Warmest regards, Stephen and Francoise Durrant (Paris, July 9).
Monday, July 09, 2012
Jerry Norman was a great scholar who has changed the way we look at Chinese.
©2015 Legacy.com. All rights reserved. Guest Book entries are free and are posted after being reviewed for appropriate content. If you find an entry containing inappropriate material, please contact us.