Norma Klein of West Lafayette left this world in the earliest hour of Monday morning, July 25, 2022, at University Place, following her 84th birthday. The girl from Brooklyn had gone to join the boy from the Bronx, Stanley F. Klein, who passed away the previous October just short of their 52nd wedding anniversary. She suffered without him.
She was born July 24, 1938, in Brooklyn, NY, to the late Herman and Eve (Haskin) Harris. An early photo pasted onto a congruent cardboard cutout shows Norma standing in winter clothes on the sidewalk near her house. She walked with her Aunt Myra Schreier, for whom her mother sponsored emigration from Austria in the late 1930s as an au pair, to Prospect Park to play. She loved Mike and Ike’s chewy candy from childhood until a handful of decades later when she sighed in regret at the movie theater concession stand that it was no good for her dental work.
Norma took up tennis in her youth and devoured tennis magazines in her bedroom. Her talent and passion for the sport led her first to season court passes and endless pickup games in the park and then to a spot on the Junior Circuit. She was most at home in the world on the tennis court, always. She later taught her daughters and nieces to play and gave lessons. When matched in her late 30s against a powerful young player in the women’s singles final at a local tournament, she declared, “She may be 16, but I know how to place the ball.” She took home the trophy. She continued playing tennis into her late seventies.
She attended Ithaca College from 1956 through 1958 in Physical Education. She was glad to apply her fulfilled credits to the Berkeley Secretarial School, which opened her path to a secretarial position in the New York City Board of Education. Norma worked as an elementary school secretary from 1967 until 1971, paused for two daughters, and was able to pick up her position again in 1984 until 2001, when she retired. “Work for the City,” she said, “then you’ll have job security and a pension.”
Norma and Stanley got married on November 22, 1969, at the Roosevelt Hotel at 44th street and Madison Avenue. Norma had been surprised and enchanted when Stanley escorted her all the way home to Brooklyn from a steakhouse in Manhattan after their first date, even though it meant he had a long trip back to the Bronx with no direct subway connection. They became engaged after their second date. She was utterly devoted to him.
They moved to New Jersey when Norma became pregnant with Rebekah, and they stayed until Hillary was four. They moved to back to the city, to Staten Island, in 1984. When Norma retired after many challenging years, New Jersey again beckoned, and they moved into the Clearbrook Development in Monroe Township. Norma filled her time with Hadassah, bridge, and, and above all, love for her family. “Eat, eat!” she said. Her local Hadassah chapter presented her with the “Love of a Lifetime” award in 2009, as well as the Woman of the Year award.
In their retirement, Norma and Stanley filled their time with bridge, local theater, the Trenton Titans ECHL hockey team. They went on a second honeymoon to Barbados in 2008. They went on a cruise to Alaska, drove to the Glenn Miller festival in Clarinda, Iowa, and traveled in Central Europe.
She was pleased that people always noticed her “gold children,” the necklace with charms for her granddaughters Zora and Milena, which succeeded a similar necklace featuring her daughters. When she wore her charm bracelet, she pointed to the significance of each life event represented: marriage, first home, each daughter, milestone birthdays, retirement, and the one for their 50th wedding anniversary. These were the people and events with which she ordered her life.
Norma is survived by her daughters Rebekah Klein-Pejšová (husband Stanislav Pejša) of West Lafayette, Hillary Butler (husband Robert Butler Jr.) of Staten Island, NY, her granddaughters Zora and Milena Pejšová. Also surviving is her younger sister Ruth Harris of Long Island, NY.
Graveside service will be at 4:00 pm on Wednesday, July 27, 2022, at Sons of Abraham Cemetery Lafayette, Rabbi Avrohom Gluck officiating. Interment will be at Sons of Abraham Cemetery Lafayette, IN. The zoom link for the funeral service is: https://purdue-edu.zoom.us/j/95709008556?pwd=SURSeGs4cit3MVkwc1NuakdGZk1udz09
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