Norma Jean Lois (Kirchner) Groot, at the grand ole age of 91 and fulfilling her one desire to pass at home, peacefully continued her life journey into eternity and the arms of Jesus being reunited with her beloved husband “Bob” on Friday, November 13, 2020, her older sister’s birthday.
Born on a bitter cold Tuesday, November 5, 1929, at home at 504 Central Avenue, Oil City, Norma was the youngest child of Daniel F. and Caroline M. (Zimmerman) Kirchner. Norma attended Central Avenue Elementary, Southside Jr. High and told stories of walking from home across the downtown bridge through all kinds of weather to Oil City Senior High School on Graff St. where she graduated in 1947 specializing in business courses. She was recognized with awards for elegant handwriting.
Norma's younger years included pushing a cart with her mother selling vegetables from the family garden to residents on Oil City's southside and scrubbing the neighbor's floors for a nickel. She was proud of her first job at Woolworth's at age 16 and went on to work in the offices of Dr. McGee and Dr. Elder, at Borland Lumber Company and finally at Sears Roebuck and Company for many years until starting a family.
It was while walking to work at her job at Borland Lumber Company that she met her husband and forever love Robert A. “Bob” Groot whom she saw each morning at the corner of Central Ave. and E. First Street where he would honk and wave. Married on May 6, 1951 in Good Hope Lutheran Church by Reverend Edward Kuhlmann, Bob and Norma shared just shy of 51 years of marriage as Bob preceded her in death passing on Sunday, April 21, 2002.
In 1954, working alongside her husband, Norma helped build the family home on Allegheny Avenue and handled all the office work for 47 years for their family business Bob Groot Roofing and Tinshop.
She was known for her exceptionally strong work ethic as well as her fierce persistent spirit.
Raising two children while helping Bob run the home and family business was Norma's proudest accomplishment, especially after being told they would not have children... but were otherwise delighted to become first time parents after 13 years of marriage, to Gretchen in 1964 and to David in 1968. Additionally, at age 71, after surviving cancer, Norma devoted her life to helping raise her beloved grandson Gavin to adulthood.
She was a lifelong member of Good Hope Lutheran Church having taught Sunday School while her children were young as well as serving in many other positions throughout her life. She was a past member of the Order of Eastern Star, past Advisory Board member and Grand Cross of Color recipient for the International Order of Rainbow for Girls Chapter #44 and a member of the Belles Lettres Club. Norma was also instrumental in organizing her Oil City High School Class of 1947 reunions for many decades at which she shared good times and fond memories with her classmates.
She was known for being a talented gardener planting her well-known red begonias for passersby to enjoy and a meticulous grounds keeper mowing her front yard until age 85. A dedicated homemaker Norma decorated beautifully for the holidays fostering a love for this tradition in her daughter Gretchen and shared her superb cooking and baking skills especially her zucchini bread, scrumptious pies with perfect crusts, homemade chocolate fudge cake with chocolate coffee frosting and cut out cookies for every holiday-a talent that her granddaughter Sara has carried on with perfection in baking cakes and cookies.
Surviving in Oil City are her daughter Gretchen and her husband Ted Johnson, who Norma fondly called “Teddy” and who was a loving caregiver and fixer of all things for Norma after Bob's passing. Her son David Groot, grandchildren Sara Watson and Gavin Groot and “Great” grandchildren Jaimie, who lovingly provided care for and had a special bond with her Grandma, Chloe, Bentley and Brody all of with whom she enjoyed 4H cow adventures, birthdays, holidays and frequent family visits.
Norma is also survived by special nieces and a nephew Cheri Rightmyer, Miriam Myers and Vance Barber who she loved on for many precious years before having children of her own. Also surviving are a niece Peggy Spence and nephew Kent Kirchner along with many great nieces and nephews.
In addition to her mother, father, husband and daughter-in-law, Melissa Groot, Norma was preceded in death by her brother and his wife Charles and Ida Kirchner and her sister and her husband Ilene and Wade Barber as well as her half siblings Margaret Fenstermacher, Robert Kirchner and Helen Driscoll.
The family wishes to extend special thanks to Stacey who came to Norma's home for several years to provide weekly hair service and friendship. Norma's desire was to pass at her home of 66 years which was made possible by the loving care from the staff of AseraCare Hospice and the family is eternally grateful especially to Amy, Melissa and Suzanne for their kind, attentive and exceptional care.
A visitation will be held Tuesday (Nov. 17) from 3 - 6 p.m. in Hile-Best Funeral Home, 2781 Rte. 257 in Seneca, Cranberry Township. A funeral service to celebrate Norma's life will follow in the funeral home Tuesday at 6 p.m. with Rev. J. Michael Parsh, associate pastor of Good Hope Lutheran Church, officiating. Private interment will be in Brandon Cemetery in Cranberry.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions in memory of Norma be made to the Grace United Methodist T.V. Ministry (c/o Grace U.M. Church, 100 Central Ave., Oil City, PA 16301), which Norma enjoyed watching for many years.
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