Just a few days following his 91st birthday, Norris Gentholts was released from his brief struggle with cancer and has joined his wife, Becky, in the company of the saints.
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Born at the home of his parents, Ora and Arthur Gentholts, in Shaker Heights, Ohio, Norris' life spanned the many remarkable events that marked the 20th century. After a typical childhood of the era, Norris was soon ensconced in the activities of high school where he met his future wife, Elizabeth "Becky" Bechtol.
Following high school graduation, Norris had selected Amherst College in New York for his university studies, all the while knowing that Becky was but a few miles away attending Wells College. Active in varsity football, studying for his geology degree, and weekends with his friends fishing made it appear he was not actively paying attention to Becky. While attending many of the local "Big Band" dances at the schools, Norris slowly won Becky's heart. After graduation and a short stint working as a geologist in an upstate iron-ore mine, Norris felt the call to duty and joined the Navy in 1942.
Norris soon attained the rank of lieutenant junior grade, and given his engineering background, was stationed for a while in the Chesapeake Bay region working to develop more efficient mine-sweeping operations. It was while stationed here that, during a long weekend pass in June 1942, Norris succeeded in making Becky his wife, a union which lasted until her death last November, a marriage of 68 years! A short stint in the Pacific theater of the war was shortened when, for medical reasons, Norris was shipped stateside where he performed escort duties for new recruits to their new stations.
Following the war and the birth of their first daughter, Barbara, Norris secured work with the Glidden paint company and moved his growing family back to the Cleveland area. Their second daughter, Libby was born in Maple Heights, Ohio. Norris soon advanced into industrial sales and remained an industrial rep for Glidden, working with the growing steel industry in the northeast corner of Ohio. A short stint in Cincinnati saw the last of the Gentholts clan being added to the growing family with the birth of their son, David.
Whether in Terrace Park, Boardman, or Poland, Ohio, Norris was usually involved in community or church activities as well as constantly helping neighbors with his always handy tool belt. His woodworking/wood-finishing skills became quite well known and his wood creations for the St. James church bazaar were often the largest moneymaker for funding church activities. The items he built then remain solid and beautiful to this day!
His willingness to help not only his neighbors but to lend support for community efforts spoke volumes about his big heart and keen mind. He helped to found a community swimming pool and a golf course in Poland, donated time to officiate regional swim meets, and served on numerous committees. His handyman skills often helped to make his children's latest apartment or home not only functional but turned them into nice, attractive places to live.
Norris began his second career in Hudson, Ohio, as business manager for the prestigious Western Reserve Academy, a private co-ed school of 600 students. After 10 years managing the day-to-day aspects of the school, it was time for more golf and bowling and enjoying the fruits of his many years labor. Retiring to Homosassa, Fla., they built their final home just north of Tampa, where they lived for 23 years. With failing health and the long distances from their children, Norris and Becky moved to Bozeman several years ago.
Norris was preceded in death by his daughter, Barbara, granddaughter, Emily, and beloved wife, Becky.
He is survived by his daughter, Libby Gentholts-Purdy and her husband, Tom Purdy; son, David Gentholts and his wife, Jane; and grandchildren, Winifred Gentholts, Grant Purdy, and Mackenzie Purdy.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28, at Dahl Funeral Chapel in Bozeman.
Memorials may be made in his name c/o donor relations to the Emil Gentholts Scholarship Fund at Gustavus Adolphus College, 800 W. College Ave, St. Peter, MN 56082-1498; or to the
, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1700, Chicago, IL 60601-7633.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.dahlcares.com.
Dahl Funeral Chapel
300 Highland Boulevard
Bozeman, MT 59715
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Aug. 23, 2010