WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
- In memorandum. Norma Burgess. 1938-2012
We depart from the normal UofL women's sports coverage to offer this eulogy for a huge UofL women's sports fan and dear friend....Norma Burgess.
A year-long battle with brain cancer has taken our pal to the life ever-after. She will be missed by many. She passed away Tuesday afternoon at St Mary's Hospital in Louisville.
Norma dedicated her life to others.
A Navy veteran, Girl Scout employee, Zonta Club member and always willing to champion the cause of the needy, downtrodden, down on their luck and those in need. Highly involved in promoting the celebration of women in the horse racing industry.
Norma was Title IX way before it ever was created.
|Two of Norma's many friends...Jo-An (left) and Sheila|
We would break into song, sometimes. She, John, Doug and I kept the patrons of the Paddock Bar and other track venues entertained with our well-meant (but far from perfect pitch) four-part harmony. If Joe was there, it was Beatles and, although we didn't exactly sound like the "Fab Four"...we weren't that bad. She, John and I formed the "picker-gnat" club...named after the pesky, little flies that would occasionally buzz around the bar area.
She would always insist I sing "My Old Kentucky Home" with her at the end of the races when it was piped over the public address system.
And, I never refused that request.
|Norma and Mine that Bird trainer Chip Wooley|
$6 bucks each, five horse superfecta box. She'd pick two, I'd pick two and we'd agree on the final horse.
I also got to meet her wonderful brother Ron. A Georgia man...fascinated with the world of horse-racing and a staunch friend and supporter of his little sister. He could sing, too and it was one of the highlights of Derby Week when he'd roll into town and we'd "handicap a few" together.
Norma loved her Lady Cards. She attended women's basketball, softball and volleyball for many years. Rejoicing in victories, saddened by losses. She told me once that she loved Angel McCoughtry because of the heart and passion #35 had.
Norma was a hoops player, too....back in the days when there was a center jump after each basket and the uniforms went from under the chin to the top of the shoes.
The look on her face when I gave her a poster of Angel is something I'll never forget. You'd thought Angel herself had shown up and given her the jersey off her back.
|Brother Ron. Norma and Susan Stidham on Thursday of|
Derby Week 2012
I choose to remember her the way I saw her that day. Smiling and laughing. Sharing her opinion. Hugging. Living life.
She didn't have a computer or laptop. She never saw CARDINAL COUPLE but kept a stockpile of our business cards in her purse and would hand them out to people who she thought might enjoy reading about women's sports.
"Miss Norma" was a friend. She always will be. I wish I had many pictures to share but...sadly, I don't. Always figured there would be time for that. The picture at the top of this article was taken by our buddy Jo-Ann. Me, her and Tom She kept a special eye on us...the Irish hoodlums. The Martin and Lewis of Churchill. If we were a "rat pack"...she was Frank Sinatra...calm, cool, collected. The "chair-woman."
Our good friend Susan Stidham sent me this picture of her and I. It is, indeed, worth 1000 words. Me and my buddy.
Farewell, old buddy. The world will be a little sadder place without you but good memories, thoughts and memories will be the way I'll remember you. Your "call to the post" is a sad day for us who knew you...but, in the end, another departure which breaks a heart but reminds us that all of us are mortal.
Gonna miss you, pal. Her birthday was coming up on Friday. She fought hard, remained optimistic to the end that she would win the battle, defeat the big "C". Her inspiration and friendship will be missed by many.
One last song. This one's straight at you, Miss Norma.
Really gonna miss you