Norma Jean Thornton White, 89, of Rock Hill, SC, passed away peacefully surrounded by family and friends on June 29, 2019. She was born on February 26, 1930 in Alexander City, Alabama, daughter of the late John Drew and Lavada Colvard Thornton.
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In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband, Jimmie William White, sisters Louise Beard, Betty Perry, Katherine Martin and grandson Joshua Whitlock.
Norma was an active member of the First A.R.P. Church in Rock Hill, SC, where she served as past president of the Women of the Church and organized the senior adult HARPS group (Happy ARP's). She also served as Director of Senior Retreat, Catawba Presbytery and was a committee member of the Older Adults, Catawba Presbytery and volunteered for several local agencies. She was honored as the Woman of the Year in 1991 by the women of the church. The 1997 Deacons Service Award was presented to Norma and her husband Jim, in recognition of their dedicated and faithful service to their church family.
She initiated the Garden and Grounds Committee and spearheaded the establishment of the landscaping and continued care of the grounds at First A.R.P Church. The meditation garden was dedicated to her in 2007. She was circle chairwoman and a Sunday school teacher.
Norma was an avid gardener and loved flowers. Over the years she found great pleasure in arranging flowers and did so for evening suppers at the church, weddings, receptions and celebrations. She could often be found on the roadside picking and photographing wild flowers. While living in New York, she was an active member of the Guilderland Garden Club and won many awards for flower arranging as well as her photography of wild flowers. She first became interested in flowers while living in Birmingham, AL where she joined her first garden club. Norma also loved to dry flowers and make arrangements of dried flowers as well as pressing flowers and arranging them under glass. Her house is filled with pressed flower pictures and she has given many away as gifts.
Photography was her hobby. She presented wildflower programs for many garden clubs as well as other organizations in the region. Many slides were donated to the York County Nature Museum to be used at local schools to introduce children to one of nature's treasures. She also taught classes there on wild flower identification and hoped to inspire others to join in her passion.
She loved spending time with her grandchildren and neighborhood children sharing her love of nature. She supported her daughter through her career and participated in encouraging her love of art, gardening and making pottery. She also supported her granddaughter's interest in horseback riding and helped finance this adventure as well as making many trips to see her compete. She also supported her grandson's love of sports and music and bought him his first guitar.
Norma and her husband also had the fortune to travel and visited every state as well as 50 countries. They loved to entertain and always welcomed friends and family into their home as well as hosted many celebrations for friends and family.
Norma was known as a thoughtful and generous person who will be dearly missed.
She is survived by her daughter, Linda Whitlock, granddaughter Cory Whitlock and nieces Darlene Hixon, Patricia Burke , Kathy Henderson and nephew Sonny Martin.
A service will be held at the First ARP church, at 2pm on July 14, 2019 located at 201 East White Street, Rock Hill, SC. Norma's cremains will be buried in the memorial garden after the service. The garden was established in 1977 by Norma and her husband Jim in honor of her sister Betty Perry. A reception with light refreshments will follow in the church.
In lieu of flowers it is requested that donations be made to the Memorial Garden Fund at the First ARP Church.
Online condolences may be directed to: www.basscares.com.