Theo K Mills Norgaard
11/5/24 – 6/13/22
Our mother (and stepmother) passed at her nursing home Josephine Caring Community in Stanwood, WA, surrounded by family and friends. Staff there had become like family. She was born at Darcy Hospital in Miles City, MT.
She is survived by her children: Kathleen (Jaclynn) Grauman, David (Bev) Grauman [grandson Michael (Sherrie) & great granddaughter Keyera)] Lola Norgaard Hansen (Arnie), Rita Norgaard Hoch, Jeannette Norgaard, also grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Niece Suzanne South who lived nearby assisted Theo for several years so she could remain in her own home before moving to Camano Island, WA.
Theo was predeceased by her husband Orvald, her parents Grayson and Belle Brown Mills, brother Randall Mills, sister Lucille Mills Davenport, sister Billie Mills South; two nieces, Linda Davenport Swenwold and Martha Davenport Beck.
Theo was raised on a homestead in eastern Montana. One year they lived in a dugout closer to the school so the children wouldn’t miss a year. When the Great Depression hit, things were tough. Then came a severe drought that killed all the crops. At the same time a plague of grasshoppers arrived, eating everything in their path, including the fence posts! Her parents moved into town to find work and settled near the Garfield School.
She graduated Custer County High School in 1942 and served in WW II in the Navy Waves. She trained in accounting and was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Bureau of Supplies and Accounts in Cleveland. All of the Navy accounts were moved there from Washington, D.C. to avoid possible bombing. After the war ended and returning home, she married Don Grauman. They later divorced amicably. She worked in accounting for a number of businesses in Miles City, including the Cenex Co-op where she met Orvald. When they married, she acquired three wonderful stepdaughters.
Theo was active in the community, especially volunteering with the VFW Auxiliary for breakfast and fish fries, the VA nursing home for Bingo , and serving on the Honor Guard for many years (in all kinds of Montana weather!). One highlight of her later years was to be on the Honor Flight to Washington, DC. Theo served for decades assisting at the voting precinct level; she was passionate about people being able to vote. She commented that neighbors made sure other neighbors made it to the polls regardless of political persuasion.
Theo belonged to Beta Sigma Phi and a Home Demonstration group. She enjoyed gardening, baking, and crochet. For a few years, she was troop leader for Brownie Scouts. She encouraged her children and nieces and nephews in reading and music. Her love of singing had her in the church choir, and, singing along with the local bands at the VFW. She was always proud to say she was from Miles City!
She moved to Camano Island in 2016 and then to Josephine Caring Community in 2018. The child care center there was a delight because the children visited residents and sometimes played games together. Staff enjoyed her participation in activities and remarked on how much they learned from her about what it was like to be on a homestead and to serve in one of the first military units that admitted women. While she was still able to get out for activities in the community, she attended Kathleen’s Rainbow City Band concerts and the swing band gigs.
A memorial service was held on July 15 at Josephine Caring Community. A military service will be held on September 30 in Miles City, Montana.