Norma Grace Horner (nee McKnight)

"Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28, ESV)

With mixed emotions but incredible thanks for a life well lived, the Horner family wishes to announce the passing of Norma Grace (McKnight) Horner, October 31, 2019, a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, aunt, neighbour, friend, and grateful follower of her Saviour.

Norma was born May 30, 1935, on the family farm;  a loving, conservative home, just west of Shawville.  She was the only daughter and 2nd child to William and Lulu (Jackson) McKnight, a sister to older brother, Murray, and younger brother, Wayne.  She overcame her first obstacle at birth, as it appeared to Grandma Jackson that she wasn’t breathing or living.  Both God, and Aunt Grace, her nurse, attended to Norma, and she took her first breath. 

Growing up in the McKnight household, the children were close, sheltered, and taught to help their parents on the farm and in the house.  Murray and Wayne loved Norma and were very proud of her.  Norma was known for teasing her dad, as they shared a close bond.  This came in handy many a time, as Norma’s reputation for never being ready on time was shaped at an early age.  On at least one occasion, her vexed mother suggested leaving her behind to help teach a lesson.  But, her dad saw to it that it didn’t happen. One Christmas tree decorating day, her dad was under the tree, attempting to straighten it. Norma grabbed him by the heels, and dragged him across the floor. 

Spiritual growth was important to the McKnight family. Sunday School, in particular, was a formative time in Norma’s life. Memories of riding to church by horse and cutter, spending time with neighbours, friends and relatives (the Jacksons, the Weavers, the Hamiltons, and, oh yes, the Horner family…) were anticipated events.

Norma, like her brothers and neighbours, walked each day to the one room school house at Radford.  Norma, however, did not care for the teasing on the way to and from school. Nor did she care for the general classroom experience.  In particular, she dreaded being singled out in class for oral presentations.  But, there was this neighbour boy, named Hugh...  Norma often recalled how protective Hugh was in those stressful, social, school settings.  A close, reliable family source offered this perspective; that Norma used to like when Hugh would short cut to school by way of the gully and the McKnight farm.  He would stop to walk with Norma, and he’d give her a kiss on the way.                                                       

In her young adult years, Norma acquired employment at the Bank of Montreal, a job she loved.  Working with money, numbers and the public, she was eventually asked to be part of an auditing sub group for the bank, a position that brought further confidence and pride in her work. It also helped fund a side passion:  FASHION! Norma dressed well.  She loved her high heels and business attire. Her brothers could vouch for that, as, going on a road trip anywhere with Norma meant a back seat full of clothes.   

Woven throughout these life experiences was the growing love story of Norma and Hugh.  Neighbours and friends since birth, their courtship went on for approximately seven years, enduring long distance separation, break ups and doubt, until each one made a life altering decision; he to put God first in his life, she to accept his proposal of marriage.  Other bold moves followed, by this self- described “timid” Norma: a switch in churches after marrying Hugh, even red heels and an engagement ring when church uniforms were still the norm! And what a beautiful wedding day it was, according to her sister in law.  Velvet dresses and high heels for the teen bridesmaids were the stuff dreams were made of!  Norma loved Hugh, her childhood friend, neighbour, boyfriend, husband, and best friend for life.  They knew one another for over 80 years, and were husband and wife for 57 of them.

Her greatest efforts were invested in the family farm and in raising a family with Hugh.  She could help put up winter fence, clean chickens for the freezer, feed threshing gangs 2 meals and multiple desserts per day, while she refereed kids, hung the laundry by colour, and potty trained babies, all at the same time. And, after that, they sang at any number of faith or community events.  Together, they did everything.  And everything, they did together.  Her hands, her hours, and her heart were full and running over.  Norma could easily underestimate herself, but to everyone else, her strengths were well known: wife, mother, business partner, singer, soloist, friend, encourager, learner, gardener, cook, pie maker, homemaker, hostess, mentor, nurturer. Nieces and nephews looked forward to visiting the farm, sledding, extra scarves and mitts, chicken and chocolate cake in the farmhouse kitchen, with the kids’ own table in the next room, of course!  There was lots of laughter, and an atmosphere that always felt like a big hug, a feeling that Norma cultivated intentionally.  The farm was a like a second home.

Norma’s six children were dearly loved and individually special to her. Over the years, Norma welcomed 5 much loved sons in law, and 1 adored daughter in law.  Each new family member was a perfect fit.  Grandchildren were a delight, from youngest to oldest.  Whether Pop Pop and Grammie visited them or they visited Pop Pop and Grammie, Grammie’s heart was entertained and delighted. She was never ready to leave to return home.

Later years brought health challenges, and life changes that demanded the inner determination of her youth, and bold faith in God.  Norma determined to live well as her health changed, her husband passed, her home sold and her heart grieved.  The last three years were lived closer to her kids, who were honoured to care for and nurture her.  On Thanksgiving Sunday, October 13, the family saw that Norma’s body was especially tired.  The Doctor said she had far exceeded health goals and expectations.  He said she had been a fighter.  Yes, she had been.  A granddaughter summed it up this way:  “…feeling a lot like one of these trees lately, being at the mercy of changing seasons, grateful to be a tree in a forest of people who are strong and fun and thoughtful .”

The last few days with all 6 children provided sweet moments of quiet conversation, chuckles, grins, surprise visits, affirming caregivers, singing, prayer, and giving thanks. This morning she passed from this world, into eternity.  One described, “Enormous elegance just entered Heaven.”  A niece wrote, “She is the kind of woman I have aspired to be.” A grandson  said, "Blessed for knowing her, blessed for having received her love, blessed to have watched her faithfulness throughout the years, and blessed to have a loving Saviour who has welcomed Grammie into His presence."

Norma is survived and lovingly remembered by her children: Dawn (Bert) McCutcheon, Pattie (Aaron) Patriquin, Nancy (Paul) DeMerchant, Janyce (Mark) Arnill, Susan (Luke) Thomas, and Neil (Heidi) Horner; her 16 grandchildren: Logan (Shaina) Patriquin, Jasmine Patriquin, Colton (Kati) Patriquin, Adam (Hope) DeMerchant, Alyson DeMerchant, Nathaniel Arnill, Andrew Arnill, Leeland Arnill, Hannah Thomas, Elijah Thomas, Ethan Thomas, Jude Thomas, Ella Horner, Eden Horner; her 2 great grandchildren:  Emery and Brynn Patriquin; her brothers:  Wayne (Maryanne) McKnight, Murray (Darlene) McKnight; sister-in-law: Lorna McKnight, brother-in-law: Wilmont Horner; sisters-in-law: Kathryn Perry, Marjorie Horner; many cherished nieces and nephews, cousins, community and faith friends and neighbours.   Predeceased by her husband, Hugh, her parents, William and Lulu (Jackson) McKnight, sister-in-law, Lois (Murray) Burls-McKnight, brother-in-law, Ellard (Kathryn) Perry, sister-in-law, Elaine (Wilmont) Horner, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Ronald and Phyllis Horner, and infant grandchild, Levi Patriquin. 

Friends may call at Hayes Funeral Home, 134 Centre Street, Shawville, Quebec on Sunday, November 3 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Funeral to take place at Bethel Pentecostal Church, 209 Centre Street, Shawville, Quebec on Monday, November 4 at 11:00 a.m. Interment at Maple Grove Cemetery. Reception to follow at the Anglican Church Hall.

Donations to New Hope Christian Fellowship Building Fund would be appreciated by the family.