Mary passed peacefully in her sleep after years of suffering with crippling arthritis.
She was the oldest of five children born to Robert (Bob) and Helen (Smith) Norris. She was born at home on the Powell flats south of town. She was the oldest of five children and the only girl. A baby girl, Georgianna, was born before Mary but passed in infancy.
Two years after Mary, Johnny was born and they were constant companions in their young years. There were no close neighbors so they spent a lot of time riding horses and exploring the land around them. Learning to work at an early age Mary and Johnny helped in the house and on the farm. Mary never minded hard work. She would say in her memory book. “Mama and Mary were busy from dawn to dark. There was water to heat on the coal stove, dishes to wash, and the cream separator, with a hundred parts to sterilize. The chimneys from the gas and kerosene lamps must be kept shiny. There was bread to bake and canning to do and in the winter, clothes to sew.”
When Mary started school she was terrified. The teacher and the kids scared her and she didn't like the big yellow bus. She would come home that first day telling Mama how scared she had been. Mama told her it would be better the next day, as the puppy pulled at her new red anklets, and Mary insisted, “No it won't!” Several days later Mama had to push Mary out the door, and hold it shut! “Mary always resists change to this day!” The only good thing about going to school was the handsome tall man that drove her bus, Roy Barnes, who was known in the community as the Rocky Mountain Cowboy. He sang western music on the radio. She would write, “He was a great help to calm fears of leaving for the day.”
There would be three younger brothers and Mary was very helpful to her mom when they were young. Mary loved her brothers especially Harley, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
On Nov. 26, 1954, Mary married Meldon McCullough, a farmer's son from across the river. To that union three sons were born: Steven, Douglas and Curtis. Meldon, not wanting to farm, put his interests in the oil field. Mary would say, “They lived in 25 apartments in four years and traveled to Colorado, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming.”
When Steve was about 13, Mary's father sold a few acres to them, and they built a house on the same land where Mary was born. She was finally able to get out of the 8-foot wide trailer and stay in one place. She loved her home, having family just up the road and by now three sons. She raised chickens and a big garden. Mary had a green thumb.
Meldon advanced in the oil field and the years rolled by. The boys were leaving home and she needed something more in her life. In 1979 Meldon helped with a down payment on a new duplex apartment. She rented out one side and lived in the other. In 1985 she opened her own business, The Little People Place day care. Mary was a natural caregiver and loved kids. For 21 years she watched scores of children. Some of those kids grew up and would bring her their kids. The children loved her. There were always crafts and snacks. One day you would go over there and there might be only one or two kids and the next day there could be 10 or more.
Mary was an artist with a very perceptive mind. Her favorite medium to work with was water color and she got very good at it. She painted family and scenes with great resemblance. Although there are many paintings, none were much larger than a 5x7. She used them for postcards. In 2006 arthritis struck. She says she remembered the day it started. After joint replacements and increasing pain she closed the day care. It was a very sad time for her. She continued to paint. Each year that passed left her more disabled and caused more pain. She missed the things she used to do: cleaning, cooking, gardening, sewing, painting, writing and looking after children.
Her greatest love was her sons and always her biggest worry and concern. She would do whatever she could to help them any way she could. She worked hard to leave them something. With time passing and her physical body failing she refused to lose what she worked so hard for. She never lost her sense of humor and would always laugh at Steve's jokes. With help from Meldon, Steve, Penny and granddaughter Brynn, she was able to stay home as long as possible. With special thanks to Savina Butler, Alison Fields, and Wyo. Senior Health.
Mary was preceded in death by her grandparents, her parents Bob and Helen Norris, brothers Johnny and Harley, grandson Logan, great-granddaughter Lilly Renee, and sister-in-law Judy Norris.
She leaves behind her life partner, Meldon; sons, Steve (Penny) of Powell, Douglas of Red Lodge, Montana, and Curtis, of Denver; granddaughter Brynn (Jarred) of Powell; brothers, Riley of Powell and George (Dawn) of Sheridan; grandchildren by marriage, Trav (Janet) Ekwall of Torrington, Wendy Phillips of Glenrock, and Dusty (Tracy) Romey of Laramie; eight grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
There will be no services at her request.