Honoured by Robert F. & John E. Metz
“The first time I drove down Lakeshore Drive I fell in love with Lake Nipissing. There has always been some mysterious force holding me in North Bay and I don’t plan to leave for a long, long time.”
Norma was 25 years old at the time she wrote those words. She lived the rest of her life in North Bay and will in spirit remain close to the lake she loved… for a long, long time.
She had a large circle of friends in North Bay: her adopted family the Willms – Dave & Carol, and Donna, and friends so very special that she called them her angels – Pat Emmott, Jeanne Burns, Penny Foster and Heather Esch.
Norma’s circle of friends grew over time by the abundance of occupations she had in North Bay: writer, secretary, musician, school bus driver, bartender, pizza chef, city bus driver, building maintainer, taxi driver, house and pet-sitter. She couldn’t walk down Memorial Drive without running into someone she knew.
She loved to write and was good at it. Norma was a contributing member of the North Bay Writer’s Club. She supported the Development Trust for the advancement of Literary Arts in Canada by hosting the Great Literacy Dinner every fall. She wrote a column in the North Bay Nugget for over 25 years. And, she published a short, real-life ghost story in the book, Extraordinary Experiences (Columbo, 1989).
Norma was an active member and secretary of the Golden Age Club. She cherished the many friendships made there, especially that of Maureen Bruce-Payne.
In 2000, Norma was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder: Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH). She became a passionate advocate for obtaining provincial funding for the treatment of PNH. She was grateful for the excellent care she received from the staff of the North Bay Regional Health Center in the ER, D3, chemotherapy department and the Lab; also to Dr. James Truong (Callander) and Dr. Pedro Lopez (Sudbury). She was especially thankful to Dr. William Finnis whose diagnosis in 2000 allowed Norma to live another 12 years.
In July 2008, Norma became a Canadian citizen. “This is my country, my home and I’m proud of it,” she said. She would always stand with one hand on her heart when the sounds and words of “O Canada” were in the air.
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Norma Rose Metz was born May 31, 1939 in Washington, DC the daughter of Henry Irwin Metz (B.8-17-1904 – D.10-26-1966) from Pittsburgh, PA and Roselda C Forcier Metz (B.9-7-1908 – D.6-27-1997) from Chicoppe Falls, Mass. Her family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where her older brother Henry Irwin Jr. (B.9-7-1933 – D.12-18-1942) drowned in a city canal. The family moved to Atlanta, Georgia and then to Silver Spring and Bethesda, Maryland in the 1950s. She had two younger brothers, John E (B.7-6-1943) and Robert F (B. 2-2-1946). After high school in Washington DC, Norma attended Our Lady of the Elms College in Mass and received a degree in English and Literature. She entered the order of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and spent many years teaching English to children in Mindinao, Philippines. She left the religious order and relocated to North Bay, Ontario in the mid 1960s. Norma died December 19, 2012 and she rests in Union Cemetery next to Ruby Willms her long time partner. All her family and friends are missing her deeply.