Norma's obituary was published in Sacramento, San Jose, and San Bernardino newspapers in April 2011. The obituary is reprinted here.
HOWE, Norma Claire (Nadeau) Resident of Sacramento, died of thyroid cancer in Sacramento on April 19, 2011, aged 81 years (or, as Norma asked her family to calculate: 29,656 days). She was born on February 7, 1930, in East San Jose, California, to Daniel Nadeau and Josephine Evelyn DiVittorio. She is survived by her husband of 60 years, Robert Louis 'Bob' Howe; her children Christine Lee Howe of Hamden, Connecticut, Jeanne Louise Howe of Sacramento, Robert Nathan Howe (Paula Howe) of Placerville, Ted Louis Howe (Alexandra Hewitt) of Sacramento, Patricia Ann Howe (David Ianziti) of Napa, and Everett William Howe (Isabella Furth) of San Diego; her brothers Wayne Stanley Nadeau of Stockton and Jack Daniel Nadeau (Virginia Nadeau) of San Jose; and eight grandchildren, one niece, and one nephew. She was predeceased by her son Douglas Edward Howe.
Norma was the daughter of a railroad man from San Jose and an Italian immigrant from Trabia, Sicily. In 1939, at age nine, she appeared on stage as a jump-roping tap dancer at the World's Fair on Treasure Island, San Francisco. Her first paying job, at age 10, was summertime work picking prunes and cutting apricots with her older brother in the orchards near her home. As a teenager and young adult she held several different jobs, including cannery work, soda-jerking, and answering phones in the circulation department of the San Jose Evening News. The legendary extra-thick chocolate milkshakes she made at the Hillcrest Creamery in San Jose were a favorite of high school classmate Bob Howe, whom she married while earning her BA degree in English at San Jose State University. Tennis was a passion for both Norma and Bob, and they played for many decades; she never used the two-handed backhand in all that time. After Bob received his teaching credential and began teaching at San Bernardino High School, Norma stayed home with the children. In addition to working evenings part-time at an answering service, Norma began writing and selling confession stories to magazines such as True Story and Modern Romances, promising herself that she would try something more serious as soon as the children were older and the house became less chaotic. The family moved to Sacramento in 1962, and Norma and Bob have lived in the same house, affectionately known as Wallyover Towers, for almost 50 years. In 1976, despite being nonsmokers, Norma and Bob began collecting advertising ashtrays, eventually owning over 20,000 different ashtrays and many thousands of duplicates. They made their first trip to Europe in the fall of 1981 and had such a great time roaming around the continent with their backpacks and Eurail Passes that they frequently traveled internationally over the following 30 years, returning often to Venice, Norma's favorite city. Norma and Bob led their extended family on two trips to Italy so they could all experience the wonders of travel. True to the promise she made to herself decades earlier, Norma wrote eight published Young Adult novels and several short stories touching on subjects ranging from free will to the Shakespeare authorship controversy. She and Bob went out almost daily for coffee and 1/4 donut each, or to share a banana split or ice cream sundae. As Oxfordians, they attended many of the conferences of the Shakespeare Authorship Research Center held at Concordia University, Portland, Oregon over the past 10 years. They admired the writings of Robert Ingersoll and of other freethinking humanists. Norma described herself as a kid who never grew up; her family will miss her mischievous and playful nature, her humor, her concern for her loved ones, and her dedication to writing. Private service. Interment at East Lawn Memorial Park, Sacramento. In lieu of flowers, Norma's family asks for donations to medical research institutions or to hospice.