Norma Ruth (Wilson) Tibbetts
September 27, 1946 – May 25, 2023
Independence, Missouri – Norma passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by her loving family, on May 25, 2023. Norma is survived by her husband of 56 years Wayne, son Scott and daughter-in-law Stephanie, daughter Kari and son-in-law Sean, grandchildren Grace, James, Maddie and Sam, and great-grandson Vince, as well as her sister Karen (Wilson) Murray and her brother Stan Wilson. Norma’s love, kindness, empathy, and wit will be deeply missed by all who knew her. A Celebration of Norma’s incredible life of love for her family and friends, and service to her community, will be held on August 27, 2023 at The Swan Dive @ Vivalore (10815 E Winner Rd, Independence, MO 64052) Open house will begin at 1 pm, ceremony will begin at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to help establish the Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation for community grants (see details below).
Childhood and college - Norma was born September 27, 1946 in Maryville, Missouri. Norma, ever the cowgirl, spent her childhood playing with neighborhood friends and visiting the Winger family farm. In Maryville she attended the Horace Mann School and Maryville High School. During this time Norma became fascinated with history and journalism and earned numerous awards. After graduating, she attended Northwest Missouri State College, graduating summa cum laude in 1968 with a B.A. in History. During her time there, Norma was a proud member and President of the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, as well as President of the Kappa Delta Pi and Phi Gamma Mu national honorary education fraternities.
Family life - On July 1, 1967 Norma married Charles “Wayne” Tibbetts (Pickering, MO) at the First Christian Church of Maryville MO. At the time, Wayne was on leave from his Air Force post at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, KS, but on Aug. 6, 1967 he was deployed to Thailand. A year later, Wayne returned to McConnell AFB, where Norma joined him. There, Norma was employed as a substitute teacher until son Scott was born on Aug. 10, 1969. Following Wayne’s discharge, they moved to Independence, MO, where they have since resided. On Aug. 2, 1971, Norma gave birth to daughter Kari. Along with raising two children, Norma served as a substitute and ESL teacher in the Independence School District, an active member of the Proctor School PTA, a Cub Scout Den mother, and a Girl Scout leader. She adored family time, her dogs, camping, sharing memories of the farm and her family, her Irish heritage, art, reading and writing. Norma spent many years writing a book of her poetry entitled “The Invisible Child”. Throughout her life, Norma was an incredibly loving and supportive wife and mother; her pride in the people Scott and Kari have become and the life she and Wayne built together knew no bounds. She also believed with her every fiber of her being that she had the most amazing grandchildren and great-grandson in the world, loving each of them ‘to the moon and back’.
Community service - If there is one thing that defined Norma’s life it was community. Norma was a devoted member of the Independence First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for decades, serving as an Elder and Stephen’s minister, teaching Sunday School, singing in the Choir, traveling on mission trips, and participating in numerous committees. In 1982, Norma started Snickerdoodles, a children’s clothing consignment shop on the Independence Square. During this time, she was an active member of the Independence Square Association and was appointed as Chair of the newly formed Independence Special Events Task Force, which made numerous contributions to promoting her community including: securing recognition of Independence as an “All-American City”, establishing Oregon City, Oregon as a sister city, arranging for the installation of the first Mayor’s Christmas Tree in Independence, and coordinating Independence as a stop for the Great American Race. As a survivor of pancreatic cancer, Norma was also an incredible advocate of hope for others, supporting countless friends as they underwent cancer treatments, and regularly serving on the Bloch Cancer Foundation hotline which she referred to as the ‘Hope Line’.
Norma’s true love and devotion was supporting children from every walk of life. Throughout her time at the Square she found ways to collect money and food for families in need. In 1987 she was appointed to the Independence City Council’s Quality of Life Youth Advisory Board. For many years, she led drives at First Christian Church to provide Christmas gifts of toys, clothing, and home goods to children and families. In 2002, Norma established “Tabitha’s Closet” – a clothing bank at the church which was used to provide children from Proctor Elementary School with clothing for the school year. With the continued support of the church, numerous volunteers and family-school liaisons, Tabitha’s grew to serve all K-12 schools in the Independence and Fort Osage school districts – furnishing 5 complete outfits/shoes, twice per year, to over 2000 children per year. In a retail shop atmosphere, families found a hand up in times of need. In 2011, Norma and the other volunteers of Tabitha’s were awarded the Independence School District’s “Citizen of the Year” award. The closet outgrew the available space in the church, leading them to partner with Northwest Community Development Corporation, where the closet re-located in 2015. Throughout this time, Norma and Patty Cox co-directed the organization, continuing to spend 30+ hours per week devoted to the cause. Following her retirement in 2016, the closet has continued to thrive, continuing Norma’s legacy to serve the underprivileged children of the community. In its 21 years of existence, Tabitha’s Closet has served more than 30,000 children.
The Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation - In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to honor Norma’s life of love and service by helping to establish the Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation. The NRT Foundation is a legacy that will continue to grow over time, providing annual contributions to the Truman Heartland Community Foundation Grants Program – a program that supports numerous local initiatives devoted to the health, education, and well-being of the community, particularly those children that she so deeply cared for. Tax-deductible contributions to establish the Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation can be made online at: tinyurl.com/NRTFoundation