Norma Louise Drake
Because I could not stop for Death
he kindly stopped for me
The Carriage held but just Ourselves
As the sun was rising on a beautiful Saturday morning, Norma Louise Drake’s radiant light gently dimmed. She died peacefully at home with her family by her side on March 8, 2008.
Norma was born in Cabot, VT on August 9, 1923 to Perley Clarence and Glenn Eva (Morse) Glidden. After graduating from Richmond High School in 1941, she moved to Des Moines, Iowa to attend Drake University on a journalism scholarship (she always enjoyed the irony of later marrying a Drake). In 1948, Norma moved to Santa Monica, CA and worked at the V.A. Hospital where she met Navy pilot and educator Robert M. Drake. Bob charmed her with a “very smooth samba” and they married two years later.
Their adventurous spirits took them to Austria where their first son Robert was born in 1957. Barney, their second son, was born in Santa Monica two years later. In 1963 the Drakes moved to Northridge, CA where they raised their sons in a wonderful, supportive neighborhood. Their time in Northridge is fondly remembered as the “Swim Flag” era.
After the boys finally started college, Norma and Bob retired to Goleta, CA, in 1979. There, they enjoyed many years at the corner of Armstrong and Pitzer Court, affectionately nicknamed ArmPitz Corner. They loved people, enjoyed entertaining and were consummate hosts. Many long and cherished friendships were established in the “ArmPitz”. After ten rich and fulfilling years in Goleta, Bob was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Norma lovingly cared for him until he succumbed in 1994. They were married for 38 years.
Norma had many life-long friends throughout the world. An outstanding correspondent, Norma claimed over 100 names on her Christmas mailing list. Using her vintage manual typewriter to write what she jokingly referred to as T-mail, Norma sent her letters the old fashioned way.
Norma was active and engaged in both body and mind. An avid gardener, she joyfully tended her many flowering plants and trees; her well-supplied compost pile had the happiest worms in town. She enjoyed walking in the neighborhood and was especially proud of completing the Cancer Foundation’s annual fund raiser walks. Norma had a great sense of humor and looked forward to the daily chronicles of Rex Morgan, M.D. and Jeopardy, a nightly ritual at ArmPitz corner, along with Art Bell’s “Coast to Coast” which fostered Norma’s interest in UFOs. She also loved Halloween, and each year kept a record of the children and their costumes that would have made the census bureau proud. Norma regularly met her “drinking friends” for decaf at Anna’s Bakery.
In 2005, Norma’s niece Nancy Glidden moved in with her, adding new spark to her already youthful vitality. So much so, that Norma attended her first slumber party at age 84! Their love and companionship evolved to one of sisterhood, infusing Norma with new energy, which deferred the ever-approaching “dwindles.” Nancy’s devotion and care became a lantern for Norma’s final journey, lighting the path that led her from this world with grace and dignity.
Norma’s sincerity and warmth were truly endearing, and she will be profoundly missed. She is survived by her loving sons Robert and Barney, her niece Nancy Glidden, two brothers Marvin Sleeper Glidden and his wife Melody (TX) and John Morse Glidden and his wife Barbara (MA) and their families, Margaret Drake, the O’Donnell Clan, and many other devoted relatives and friends.
The family would like to express their appreciation to Visiting Nurse & Hospice for their care, compassion and professionalism. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Santa Barbara, 222 East Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. A memorial service will be held at Goleta Valley Cemetery on Sunday, May 25, 2008 at 11:00 a.m., followed by a celebration of Norma’s life at 12:00 noon at UCSB’s Mosher Alumni House.