Our mom, Norma Spencer Butt, 92, danced into the welcoming arms of our heavenly Father and then into the embrace of our dad on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019, as she left her earthly home while surrounded by family. Mom always said she was going to live to be 100, but Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s disease had other plans.
She was the daughter of the late James Thomas Spencer and Ethel Lee Bailey Spencer of Norfolk and the wife of our dad, the late Harry Frederick Butt Jr., who preceded her in death in 2007 just after their 50th wedding anniversary.
She was also preceded in death by her brother, James Thomas Spencer Jr.; sister, Lucy Spencer Jordan; and dear daughter-in-law, Suzan Mann. She is survived by us, her adoring children, eldest son, Jim, of Springfield, Pennsylvania, and Jim’s wife, Laura, Jim’s son, Tyler, Laura’s children, Kevin (Victoria), Vinny and Sarah; favorite daughter, (Mom’s words) Cathy, of Virginia Beach, Cathy’s husband, Kevin, who was a loving caregiver and whom Mom loved as another son; and youngest son, Rob, of Cypress, Texas, Rob’s wife, Joyce, and their twins, Jordan and Jacob. Mom is also survived by an adoring niece, Doris Anne Duffey, of Taylors, South Carolina, dubbed “TFN” (the favorite niece) by us many years ago, along with Doris Anne’s son, Tommy, and daughter, Amy, and their families. Doris Anne stayed with Mom on many occasions so that Cathy and Kevin were able to take time away from caring for Mom. Mom is also survived by a special nephew who adored her, Thomas Preston Spencer of Brookhaven, Georgia. Tom visited Mom as much as his multiple sclerosis would allow. She loved him and had a grand time just visiting with him or taking an afternoon round-trip ride to nowhere on The Tide. Mom is also survived by Doris Anne’s brother, our cousin, Bill Jordan, and his large family of Williamsburg; and Doris Anne’s sister, our cousin, Linda Scott, and her husband, Ronnie, of Astatula, Florida. She is also survived by a host of lovely friends all across the country, many of whom we kids have known all our lives. We are grateful for those friendships that gave Mom such happiness in her final days.
Mom attended schools in the Norfolk school system until the death of her mother when Mom was just 15 years old. She then left home and graduated from Campbell College High School in Buies Creek, North Carolina. She then attended the Woman’s College at UNC, Greensboro, North Carolina, before returning home to care for her dad. After graduating from Kee Business College, Mom worked as secretary to the superintendent of the Norfolk School Board and then to the superintendent of car service for Norfolk Southern Railroad.
She joined Epworth Methodist Church and it’s while singing in the choir that she met our dad. They married in 1956 and then came us! We were fortunate to have a stay-at-home in our early formative years. Mom and Dad loved being involved in our activities and school functions. Mom was PTA president at Malibu Elementary School, where they both had so much fun dressing up as clowns for our school carnivals. They were involved in scouting and were band parents at Princess Anne High School. We have memories of Mom running down the street trying to get our kite into the air, building “houses” with Lincoln Logs in our fort under the dining room table on a rainy day, making us the coolest Halloween costumes, pretty Easter dresses for Cathy and handsome suits for the boys, and, of course, the best homemade birthday cakes ever. We never knew that Mom used her talents to pinch pennies. We just knew that she was the best mom ever who gave us a childhood we’ll never forget.
Mom was a proud member of Cape Henry Women’s Club, where she made many steadfast friends. She served as club historian and thoroughly enjoyed making sure that the history of the club was documented. While she was still healthy, she loved “Christmas in the Country” — a time of year when club members decorate the home of a Virginia Beach resident so that they may showcase this home for others to tour. Mom was always excited to hear what a successful fundraiser this was. Mom’s pride of the club was her work with the Head Start program that is still going strong today. She organized an opportunity to enjoy reading books to children in Virginia Beach Head Start classes. She was able to work with publishers in order to have enough books donated so that each child would go home with at least one book. At the end of each story session, Mom would encourage the children to ask someone at home to read the books to them and to give hugs — for when giving a hug; you always get one in return. This was something we practiced in our home as well. Hugs and kisses were never in short supply.
Mom was a member of the Community United Methodist Church, the Ruth Circle, United Methodist Women and the Fellowship Sunday School Class. She was a former member of Thalia United Methodist Church, where we were raised and Virginia Beach United Methodist Church, until the passing of our dad. She was also former member of Epsilon Sigma Alpha Sorority, Alpha Xi Chapter.
We would like to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to Bessie Day and Mary Ouimet for all the times they chauffeured Mom to and from church functions that she otherwise would not have been able to attend.
We would also like to thank the wonderful staff at Kindred Hospice, especially Liz Lindberg, Linda Gatling and Martina Lewis-Thomas. They all helped Cathy ensure that Mom was always comfortable and happy.
A celebration of Mom’s life will be held at noon, Monday, Dec. 2, at Community United Methodist Church, 1072 Old Kempsville Road, Virginia Beach. A reception in the social hall will follow the service. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Cape Henry Woman’s Club Scholarship Program, c/o Nancy Donis, 2690 Bracston St., Virginia Beach, VA 23456; or to the Alzheimer’s Association.
Share online condolences with the family at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home & Crematory.