Port Tobacco Players mourns the passing of Norma Stone Neergaard, a wonderful actor who has graced our stage, on August 2, 2021, after a slow decline.
Written by the Elliott and Thompson families.
She was born on June 23, 1933, to Charles and Minnie Stone in Winchester, Kentucky where she lived until after she met and married Charles Neergaard (died 1990).
Her early days on Boone Avenue in Winchester brought her to the 1st Presbyterian Church where she sang in the choir. There in the back row was her soon to be husband, Charles. They didn’t know one another until they met at a party months later. Norma intentionally rode with a friend expecting to find someone to give her a ride home. Smart and sassy, Norma found Charles. They were married 8 months later.
While living in the Carriage House on Belmont Ave, the couple had two girls. Soon, job changes caused them to move to West Virginia, Marcellus, New York and then LaPlata, Maryland. Always, the first order was to find a church home and sing in the choir. Norma was always willing to lead the children’s choir or play piano. She always had a neighbor or two sending kids over for piano lessons too. Music always filled the house. Norma would say that the most fun was performing with the Marcellus Chorale….especially in the Spring Broadway Review. At every party there was always a group circled around Norma playing the piano singing in harmony.
Norma was an avid golfer. She always remembered fondly the trophy won with Debbie in the Mother-Daughter Tournament.
After her husband passed away, and both daughters married, Norma enjoyed grandparenting the babies that came. She also dusted off her “actress” hat and was cast in several productions of the Port Tobacco Players. With a goal of visiting all 50 states, Norma and friend made big driving trips across the country and met her goal. Eventually, she relocated near her girls in Texas. There she was busy with new friends and the social recreation offered where she lived.
Throughout her career, she was an exceptionally detailed asset to each company. Her earliest profession was as a proofreader for the Winchester Sun and later for the Marcellus Observer. The Law firm of Bryant, O’Dell and Basso in Syracuse, New York hired Norma as a legal secretary. After her move to Maryland, she began work at the Law Office of Merle Turner in LaPlata. Norma also had a side gig as a high school gymnastics judge – she had a detailed, discerning eye.
Norma always put others to shame with her skill at Scrabble and Banana-Grams. The daily crossword puzzles were her morning challenge. She couldn’t start the day without the newspaper and her coffee.
“Nana,” as she became known to the family, was the matriarch. Always at family gatherings, she enjoyed the finer things, like Blue Crab and cheap red wine. She was a fine cook who could make fried chicken and pinto bean soup like no other. In the kitchen, she was known however, for her homemade hot rolls affectionately renamed “Nana’s Buns.”
Having lived through lean times, Norma was a frugal shopper and a coupon-cutter extraordinaire! She enjoyed finding treasures at garage sales and refinishing furniture. Her treasures are now housed in the homes of her daughters….along with the back-stories of each. Additionally, she used her skill in sewing, crochet, and knitting to supplement the wardrobes of her girls. Ask Karin about the knitted pants and top….
Part of Norma and Charles’ household was Norma’s mom, Minnie. Confined to a wheelchair, they took her into their home early in their marriage. They selflessly and lovingly cared for her for nearly 20 years.
Although Norma didn’t want to be a burden, she reluctantly agreed and lived the last 5 years of her life under the loving roof of Karin and Ed. Their willingness and ability to have her there was a gift to her and the rest of the family. For the last year, Norma was cared-for by loving aides provided by “Granny Nannies, Inc”. Especially of note were those at the end.
Norma was preceded in death by her husband, Charles. She is survived by her daughters, Karin Elliott (husband Ed) and Deborah Thompson (husband Scott); grandsons, Ardi Elliott, Bradley Thompson (wife Jessica), Matthew Thompson and Michael Thompson.
An early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease sent Norma’s daughters to a free course provided by the James L. West Alzheimer’s Center. This instruction provided a tremendous knowledge base from which to navigate through Norma’s decline. It is a recommended resource! Because of this, the family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to the Dementia and Caregiver Education program at www.JamesLWest.org