Thursday, July 3, 2008

In Memory of Norma

Today we held a memorial celebration for the life of Norma Santhoff, one of the original members of the Compton Cares Team and a tireless believer in the power of prayer combined with practical action. Norma is remembered by her 5 children and many grandchildren, by her neighbors in the condo, by the staff and board of Cornerstone early childhood center which she founded, by the literally thousands of children whose lives are better for her work, by members past and present of Compton Heights whom she taught in Sunday School, led in youth groups, shared with in Reading Circle and study groups and prayer groups. She was an elder, a past moderator of the congregation. She was the person who called you in the middle of an ice storm and found you a warm bedroom when she learned your power was going to be out for days. She took a sabbatical from Sunday school to observe the caring community that gathered in a fast food restaurant near her home. She was not afraid of the people who knock on your door and want to witness to you; she invited them in and studied the Bible with them for years, with the understanding that neither was going to convert the other. She brought rocks from the spot she visited on vacation because she knew you collected rocks and she wanted to thank you for taking her to the airport. Within days after receiving a devastating diagnosis, she was back calling people in the congregation as well as her friends to check on their various surgeries and recoveries. She was at home in the InterRacial Dialogue and representing Compton at the Pride Fest booth, as in this picture taken a year ago. Three benches in the garden outside Compton were provided by Norma, because she wanted people passing by or waiting for the bus to have a place to sit and rest and enjoy the view. Norma loved babies, children, young couples, single people, old people, dogs, neighbors, strangers, her family, friends, flowers, and challenges. She not only believed in prayer, she was a living prayer. We have lost a treasured friend and heaven has gained a saint.