Norma Jean was born Feb. 7, 1929, to Willie C. and Mable Smith in Kendrick, Okla.
She spent her early years in and around Chandler, Okla., until the death of her baby sister, Aileen, and the dust bowl made Willie and Mable say “enough.” In 1938, the family of five joined other dust bowl migrants and made their way to California, settling in Cordelia.
She met the love of her life, Travis Barrick, in 1946 and married him June 30, 1947.
Norma and Travis traveled in a trailer to various construction sites around California and welcomed a baby girl, Phillis Jean, in June 1948. April 1953 found the birth of a baby boy, Michael Travis.
Norma and Travis stopped traveling in the trailer when he began working for the County of Solano. They scrimped and saved and purchased 2½ acres in the Tolenas area of Fairfield in 1955, which they paid cash for. The team purchased cement blocks and lumber as money allowed and worked on building their dream house over a three-year period.
Norma worked various jobs growing up and into adulthood. Her two favorite jobs were working for Continental Airlines, where she caught the bug to travel, and later in life, as a greeter at the Fairfield Walmart, where she remained until she had an accident on an ATV that forced her to retire after 15 years. She was thrilled beyond comprehension to be chosen to cut the ribbon on behalf of Walmart Corp. when the new store opened on North Texas Street.
Before joining Walmart, her travels included 36 cruises, where she could really dress up, to various ports around the world, mainly with Mike, with Phillis joining on a few as vacation time allowed. Her favorites were transiting the Panama Canal, the Amazon River and South Pacific.
Her partner in life died in 1978 when she was 49 years old. Norma remained a widow until her death, 35 years later.
She took great joy in the births of her granddaughters, Wendy, in August 1967, and Lori, in December 1969. Cory Travis, whom she had great pride in during the past nine years, was born to Wendy and Denny Garner in January 2005. Although the Garners live in Oklahoma, Cory and grandma Norma had loads of fun when they got together, to the point of her trying to play badminton with him the last time the family met in Utah this past May and June. Even though she had her bad knee and had a hard time walking, she was a trooper.
Norma was/is everyone’s mother, grandmother, aunt, friend and confidante.
She knew no strangers and infected everyone with her positive outlook and the everlasting smile that made her blue eyes sparkle, and nobody can forget her laugh.
Even when Norma would walk to the road to get the mail or newspaper, makeup was on perfectly and every hair was in place. Folks knew not to make plans with her on Friday as that was “Hair Day.”
She leaves behind her daughter, Phillis, and son-in-law Larry Bednarz of Lodi; Her best friend, traveling partner and son, Michael of Fairfield; granddaughter Wendy and husband Denny Garner; and great-grandson Cory of Cleveland, Okla.; and granddaughter Lori Havel and partner Kobi Gwinn of Midvale, Utah. Norma also leaves numerous nieces and nephews, along with many great-nieces and great-nephews, several great-great-nieces and great-great-nephews, and a handful of great-great-great-nieces and great-great-great-nephews. She was the last aunt or uncle from a large family (Barrick) to survive.
“Aunt Norma” loved receiving calls from her nephew, Ken Green from Cottonwood, where the two of them could and would literally talk for hours about everything, mainly old times with the family, tell jokes and laugh at and with each other. She truly missed his calls the past year after his passing in January 2012.
The past five years have been rough for her, yet she persevered, from surviving breast cancer and continuing to work full time during radiation therapy, to flipping the ATV in Utah, which forced her to leave Walmart.
Phillis and Michael made a vow to their parents many years ago to take care of them and the survivor, should one pass. Both kids kept that vow and took care of Norma for the rest of her life, and did a pretty good job.
Even when money was tight, “Aunt Norma” always made sure to buy flowers for family and friends to place on the graves at Fairfield and Rockville cemeteries on Memorial Day. To her it was a duty and honor to remember those who had passed.
Thanks go out to Dr. David Danzeisen and his staff, Kathy and Anne Marie at Kaiser Permanente in Fairfield, who have been involved with Norma all the way. Many thanks to them for working to get her transferred from Mercy San Juan Stroke Center in Sacramento to Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center, where she passed.
Also, many thanks to the Vacaville Kaiser CCU who cared for and eased Norma Jean’s passing with dignity at 1:45 p.m. Feb. 13, 2014, from the massive stroke in the cerebral cortex that left her paralyzed, unable to see, talk and hear.
Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, at Fairfield Funeral Home. Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, 2014, at Fairfield Funeral Home.
Arrangements under the care of Fairfield Funeral Home, 1750 Pennsylvania Ave., Fairfield, CA 94533.