We lost one of our colleagues at the NAM this week, a bright and cheerful soul, Norma Leake. She died suddenly last Saturday night. We were all stunned at the news since she was relatively young, in apparent good health and was with us all just the day before. It was yet another reminder to us all that death strikes unexpectedly, that we know not the hour, and that we must always treasure our friends and loved ones.
Norma officially was a Program Manager in our Marketing and Business Development Department. But in reality, she was an employee who transcended title and function. She had been with us almost 15 years, and was just one of those bright souls who always brought a smile to everyone’s face. When you talked to her, when you passed her in the hall, even for a brief greeting, she’d always have something to say that would make you chuckle. She had a glint of mischief in her eyes, right there above the permanent grin.
Her memorial service yesterday was in a packed St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Temple Hills, Maryland, just outside DC. Her sister read some nice remembrances of Norma. Her boss, Dan Akman gave a great tribute and read a funny and moving one from her former boss, Ladd Biro. Made everyone laugh out loud and miss her a little bit more. Governor Engler gave some brief remarks that were sentimental, and touching.
As we assembled in that church, we could watch outside as a front blew through, heralded by strong winds that swept the leaves off the trees here in the first weeks of autumn. It reminded us all once again that the leaves would fall, the trees would be bare, but the buds would come back in Spring. Out of death comes life.
One of Norma’s many sidelights — besides being a passionate reader — was a travel club that she ran. Some people mentioned today that because of Norma, many people got to travel all over the world and see interesting and exciting places. Truth is, for anyone who knew Norma, the most interesting and exciting place in the world was sitting right next to her, basking in the joy and warmth that defined her.
May she rest in peace.
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