Beloved artist Norma Lewis passed from this life Jan. 1, 2019, at the age of 87.
Born Norma Tuomala in 1931, to Finnish parents in Hibbing, Minnesota, Norma grew up on the Mesabi Iron Range. Her father worked as a certified welder. During World War II they moved the family to California where her mother and father worked at the Mare Island Shipyards. From there they moved to Monterey where they built a home on Terry Street with a view of the Monterey Bay.
Graduating early from high school, she continued her studies at Monterey Peninsula College and California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. There she was able to pursue her keen interest in art. She also studied privately with Carmel artists Richard Lofton and Howard Bradford. Among many things, Norma was a daughter, wife, mother, musician, horsewoman, artist and volunteer.
In 1949, she met up with a handsome Army Air Corps man, Gordon Lewis; they went on their first date in his Model A to Rosie’s Crackerbarrel in Carmel. Gordon eventually became fire captain for the Monterey Fire Department and Norma worked a variety of jobs, including a stint as a telephone operator.
They were married in 1952 and built a small house on Terry Street, near her childhood home. They raised their two children, Dan and Julie, in Monterey. No matter how busy Norma was, she always managed to take her children and many of the neighborhood children to galleries and cultural events. This provided some of them with their first exposure to art.
As a family, they liked to camp in Big Sur and Mariposa. Norma often joined Gordon on his many sailing trips along the West Coast.
Norma and Gordon moved to Quincy in 1974. There Norma continued her art pursuits and also joined the High Mountain Riders Horse Club. She bought a very smart horse, Miskey, and the two of them traveled around the north state competing and earning many ribbons. The activities of her horse club were a highlight in her life.
As though that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she ran the old Quincy Greyhound Bus Station, worked on the cook crew at fire camps, helped Gordon fix up properties for resale and more recently walked many dogs at the local animal shelter.
She became an active member of the art community, attended art classes at Feather River College and Chico State University, joined several galleries in Quincy and exhibited throughout Plumas County.
Throughout her life Norma produced a large body of compelling artwork in various media: printmaking, monotypes, serigraphs, etchings, collages, as well as hundreds of drawings and oil and gouache paintings. She had a particular affinity for figurative and nude drawing and painting. A special exhibit of her artwork is on display through January at the Main Street Artists Gallery.
Norma embraced art of all kinds and searched it out wherever she went. She participated in workshops and shows with friends and her daughter Julie, also an artist. She painted often with her partner in crime, Sally Yost. The two of them created, laughed and traveled together. Norma could not work a cell phone or a computer, but she knew how to see. She will be missed.
She was predeceased by her parents, Joan and John, brothers, Henry and John, as well as her son, Daniel Lewis.
She is survived by her dedicated and loving husband, Gordon Lewis and daughter, Julie Lewis, as well as numerous cousins, including Quincy local Joanne Filippi.
Memorial services will be held at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 298 E. High St., Quincy, on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 4 p.m. Reception to follow in the church hall. All are welcome to attend.
**In last week’s obituary for Norma Lewis, mention of her grandchildren, Dayne Lewis and Helen Lewis, was inadvertently omitted. Norma was a devoted grandmother who enjoyed sharing her love of horses by taking her young grandchildren to the corral to ride and was also ready at a moment’s notice to draw or paint any subject of their heart’s desire. Dayne and Helen were an integral part of her life. They will surely miss her.