The Heroines

Norma Lee Brown Stein

is honored with a Brick from Connie Brown and kids.

What My Mother Means to Me

Norma Brown Stein was born in Driftwood, Oklahoma, to Myrtle and Harry Pollock on January 20, 1927. They were owners of a dairy farm and she grew up on that farm.

In 1944, after graduating from Cherokee High School, she married Sgt. Thomas J. Brown and they had three daughters by 1948.

Norma was so industrious and she was always working hard. She baked cinnamon rolls and sold them at the cafe in Cherokee, Oklahoma; helped at the livestock sale barn; then she worked at the town newspaper and local bank before moving her family to Wichita, Kansas, in January 1956. In Wichita, she began working at the Fourth National Bank. She was taking classes and studying banking and eventually became Manager of the Midtown Branch of Bank IV and then, became the Customer Service Officer of Bank IV, a position she held until she retired in 1991.

In 1950, Norma was among the few mothers who worked outside the home. As a child I didn't really think "hard work" was something to be avoided because my mother was doing just that all the time and seemed quite happy. Since then I have learned that happiness is the reward of hard work, for without it you don't have the joy of accomplishment. How thankful I am to my mother for setting my path in a direction that allowed me to learn that. So many people never learn it and one of the symptoms is that the hard work of raising their own children is just a source of stress and constant complaining instead of joy and laughter, as it was for my mother and also for me.

It is a strange feeling when you are 50 years old, to sit down and try to put on paper what you remember about your mother. I don't remember any particular gifts or stupendous occasions. It is she as a person that I remember: laughing with her friends, planning a party for me, packing my lunch in the morning before school, and teaching me to iron.

To summarize Norma's life and the effect she had on those she touched, I can very simply say, she is courageous and happy as she goes about what she resolves to do. And her resolutions are formed by her knowledge of God and goodness. She does not occupy herself with what others should or should not do. But most important, she is laughing, and as a result all who are with her are without grief and strain. This does not begin to describe her; her presence is what I love. There is a joy in being with her, or even just thinking of her, that I cannot put in words though I wish I could.
Connie Lynn

What My Grandma Means to Me

My grandma Norma is such a terrific person it's hard to imagine anyone coming close to measuring up to my vision of her. Norma is so many wonderful things that I thought I should share some of her qualities with you so you can know her better too. Norma is the kind of woman who always thinks about others, who never forces her opinion, always accepts others for exactly who they are, is supportive and generous to her family and friends. She stays active in her church and community and she encourages honesty, courage, and loyalty. These are all things that I have noticed about her in addition to her many amazing talents and her endless compassion. Norma has helped me learn many life lessons and I don't think I've properly thanked her... Grandma, thank you for all your love and understanding, without which my mother could not have been what she is, nor anyone else who you have touched so deeply through your overflowing acceptance. I want you to know that you have taught me to love others, to look for the good in people and things and myself. You have also helped me learn that if I try my best, there is no such thing as failure. I love you Grandma Norma; you have enriched my life beyond measure.

If people someday say that I am like my grandmother, it will be a compliment. She is beautiful, but that is only the beginning. She is a strong woman. She has always worked hard, although I have never heard her complain. More amazing is her strength in her faith, and in her love for us all. Because she is wise, the future never catches her unprepared. She always expects the best from us, but she also leaves room for us to be human, and never takes it personally if our good qualities are mysteriously absent sometimes. In all of my life, I have never heard her say an unkind thing about anyone. My grandmother knows how to enjoy life, which is a wonderful ability; you can't help but enjoy yourself when you are with her. All of my life she has made me feel smart and special and beautiful. How do you say thank you for a gift like that, except try as hard as you can to someday be like her.
Michael and Wendi Born

When I think of my grandmother Norma, I think of confidence. Not just the confidence that she has, but the confidence that she has inspired in others. It is not easy to make people feel like it is okay to try something new and not worry about the failure. But she has shown me that it is not impossible. She has always been there for me when things were going good and when they weren't so good. Even though we don't see each other as much as we used to, I still feel like she is there if I need her. That is a remarkable thing to do. I think that she does it by always making sure you hear her opinion, but you will never hear it more than once. If you fail to heed her advice and make a wrong decision, you will never hear an "I told you so." That is why she is always there and why I always feel comfortable around her. I can always be me and always be loved by my Grandma Norma.

Grandma, I feel, has always been there to help me when I needed help. She also loved to spoil me when I was younger. I remember when she used to always take me to McDonald's and buy me anything I wanted. Another thing I will never forget is that every time I visited her when I was little, she always had a batch of pudding waiting for me because she knew how much I loved vanilla pudding. My greatest reminder that I have of her is the bluebells that she used to give me on every one of my birthdays when I was younger. A bluebell really is not much for any kid to ever get excited about but I always treasured them just because she gave them to me and I will always love her since she is a great grandma.

June 2, 1998