Norma Drucker

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Norma Drucker March 19, 1925 - July 29, 2014 BERRIEN SPRINGS - On Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at 5:08 p.m., we lost a healthcare executive, a healthcare professional, an active member of the community, a friend, an avid sailor, anda mother. Norma Drucker died of complications following a health crisis she suffered sometime during the weekend of July 20. Until then, she was active and independent. On a phone call a few Saturdays ago, she talked of taking her "knee-highs" (kindergartners) on a hike through the Prairie at Fernwood Nature Center. On a later call she spoke of preparing and taking food to her church to feed the hungry. On March 19, 1925, in Crystal Falls, Michigan, Norma Ione LeVernois was born, to Mose and Sofie (Sutter) LeVernois. And now she's gone. She had an amazing life. She was a Registered Nurse, her license still active on the day she died. She also held a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Arts degree from Western Michigan University. Both degrees were acquired while Norma was actively working at Berrien General Hospital as one of the first Utilization Review nurses. Utilization Review is required by the State of Michigan to ensure consistency in how Medicare and Medicaid cases were handled. She began this career, in the early '70s, when her youngest child, a son, was in high school. Utilization Review hardly existed when she began and Norma had to perform her own research and develop her own guidelines. Much of her documentation later became the foundation for the state's UR standards. Norma went on to hold a number of other positions at the hospital, culminating with Director of Medical Affairs, which would be called Medical Director had she been a doctor. Norma retired from her career in this position in 1988. Norma and her husband Delos (Del, Doc Drucker) spent many years on their sailboat, Bitewing, exploring the Great Lakes; mostly their beloved Lake Michigan. Norma and Del met at the University of Michigan when they were both students; she in the School of Nursinghe in the School of Dentistry. (When they first started dating, Norma asked fellow members of her nursing sorority if they thought it was okay for her to date a man five years her elder.) They fell in love, and during their senior year, eloped. They were secretly married on December 27, 1945. But because married women weren't allowed to attend U of M in the '40s, she returned to her sorority, and he to his dental fraternity, and only those who witnessed the marriage knew. From what she later told her children, her plan was to further her education at that time. Norma's plans went awry when she learned that her first child, a daughter, was coming, and they publicized their marriage in a family ceremony. On July 5, 1947, they reaffirmed their vows, and none of their parents ever knew that they had been married previously. Norma was active in many community organizations. She was a den mother in Cub Scouts, a troop leader with the Girl Scouts, in PTA and PTSA, a member of the Civic League, and was a volunteer at Berrien General Hospital before she became an employee, to name a few. (Norma usually ended up as president or chairperson of any organization she became involved with.) After retirement, she volunteered at the hospital gift shop until it closed, volunteered at Fernwood Nature Center, and remained a member of the Altar Guild at Trinity Episcopal Church, in Niles, until the end. Norma and Del were also active with the Berrien County chapter of the Red Cross for many years. Norma was the last of her immediate family. She had two older sisters Lorraine (Jim) Williams and Muriel (Jack) Burns, and a younger brother, Dr. Earle (Marie) LeVernois, MD. All died before Norma. Norma is survived by her four children: Martha/Marti (Morrie) Sharlot, in Florida; Richard/Ric (Donna), in California; Deborah/Deb (Jack) Larsen, in Michigan; and John, in Arizona. She was also gifted, by Deb and Jack, with two terrific granddaughters: Stefanie/Stef Larsen, currently a nursing student at Grand Valley State University, and Abigail/Abby Larsen, soon to graduate from Ferris State University as a Doctor of Pharmacology. They made Norma very proud. Norma was married for more than 57 years until her husband, Del, a local dentist, succumbed to Parkinson's Disease, in 2003. Norma requested that no funeral services be held. In lieu, a reception for Norma will be held at Fernwood Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve, in Niles. The date of the event has yet to be determined, but will be in early September. Donations in Norma's memory may made to Fernwood...she loved the gardens...or to an organization of your choice. Online condolences may be left at Norma touched many lives during her own, and will leave an empty place in the hearts of her family, friends, acquaintances, and associates. Bye, Nana.

Published in South Bend Tribune on Aug. 5, 2014
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