Norma touched the lives of countless people, daily living her Christian faith by truly loving her neighbor (Luke 10:25-37) through simple acts of mercy and grace. She loved her large and ever-growing family and welcomed all with open arms. She thought continuously of others, rejoicing in moments of happiness, grieving in moments of sadness, and she lifted up everything in prayer to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day. To everyone reading this, know that Norma prayed for you! You may have been one of thousands she directly named in prayer over the years, or part of the multitude – a foster child, a high school athlete, a single mother, a farmer, a widow, a Husker fan, a cancer patient, a lost son or daughter, a jobless father, a childless parent, anyone who has ever suffered or hurt – she entrusted YOU to the care of the Heavenly Father. It is the prayer of the family that you may have felt the loving arms of Christ and found your way to Him through Norma. We will miss her kindness and Living witness, but rejoice with all the saints that she is in her eternal home.
Norma was born November 30, 1926 in rural Gresham, NE to George and Jennie (Dey) Heineke. She was baptized into God’s family on December 19, 1926 and confirmed on April 2, 1939 at St Peters Lutheran Church, Gresham, NE. Norma graduated from Gresham High School in 1943. She attended York College and Immanuel Hospital School of Nursing as part of the US Cadet Nurse Corp. On December 27, 1946 she was married to Clyde Ehlers at St Peters Lutheran Church in Gresham.
Norma and Clyde lived, farmed and raised their family together north of Thayer, NE. They were blessed with three children, Amy, Brad, and Sue. Norma was active at church, in LWML, as a 4-H leader, in WIFE, and was the first female York County Commissioner, serving for eight years. She had a strong Christian faith and prayed for many people each day.
She is survived by her daughters, Amy (Woody) Ziegler, Sue (Steve) Eliker, (former) daughter-in-law Sharon (Jerry) Sykes, and sisters-in-law, Doris Heineke and Sally Heineke.
From her own three children, Norma’s grandchildren include: Erin (Jeff) Huebschman, Chris (Vicky) Ziegler, Clay (Julianna) Ehlers, Andrea (Trent) Chrisman, Josh Sullivan, and Mackenzie Sullivan. The list of those she considered and loved as grandchildren was expansive. She is also survived by 21 great-grandchildren who she loved and adored.
Norma was preceded in death by her parents and the following siblings and their spouses: Mildred and Vivian Hills, Loretta and Marvin Volzke, Eugene, Robert, Gary, and Dennis Heineke. She was also preceded in death by her husband Ernest “Clyde” on 10/1/2011, and their son, Bradley on 8/4/1978 at age 24. Losing Brad was one of her most difficult life experiences, which ultimately lead to the strengthening her faith. She was also preceded in death by her son-in-law, Gary Sullivan.
A split visitation will be held on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at Metz Mortuary and also from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. where the family will receive guests at the former Zion Lutheran Church, now located at Wessels Living History Farm south of the York interchange.
Funeral services are scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Wednesday, June 16, 2021 at St Paul Lutheran Church in Utica, NE with the Reverends Jon Dunbar and Richard Gudgel officiating. A luncheon will follow the funeral service and burial will take place at 2:00 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Thayer, NE. Memorials may be directed to Orphan Grain Train, Mission Central, St Paul Lutheran Church in Utica or to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.
Norma’s funeral service will be live streamed on the St Paul Lutheran Church’s website (stpaulutica.com).