Jerome W. Norum, the only child of Walter and Gertrude Norum, was born in the fall of 1933 in Benson, Minnesota. Jerry passed away peacefully on Easter Sunday, April 1st, 2018, with family by his side, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital in Fairbanks, Alaska.
When a child, Jerry moved with his parents, Walter and Gertrude, to eastern Washington during the war effort and eventually ended up in Purdy, Washington, a small town just outside of Tacoma. Jerry attended grade school in Port Orchard and graduated in 1951 from high school in Gig Harbor, Washington. He served in the Navy Reserves during high school and joined the Navy after graduating. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in November 1953.
Jerry attended Seattle University earning his Bachelor and Masters of Education degrees. During his time at Seattle University he met his future wife, a Fairbanksan, Nancy Witt. In 1954 Jerry made his first visit to Fairbanks to meet his future in laws. In 1957, he married Nancy. In 1959 Jerry made his permanent residence in Fairbanks, after earning his Administrative Certificate.
In 1959 Jerry started out his education career in Fairbanks as a teacher at Main School, now City Hall. The following year he taught at Barnette School when it first opened. Jerry eventually moved into administration, doing a number of special projects for the district administration. Eventually, Jerry settled at Hunter Elementary where he became the Assistant Principal and eventually the Principal. After a number of years in administration he went back to the classroom and back to his true passion teaching children. He finished his career teaching at Woodriver Elementary School and retired from the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District in 1986.
Jerry’s public service started when he first arrived in Fairbanks, the city he affectionately called “River City”. He was a member of the Catholic church and a founding charter member of Council 5011 of the Knights of Columbus at Immaculate Conception Church, a member and past president of the Fairbanks Kiwanis Club, a member and past president of the Fairbanks Teachers Association and an organizer of the Fairbanks Youth Football Association. He was also a member of the board of directors of the 1988 Arctic Winter Games Host society. Jerry served 3 terms, from 1980-1989 on the Borough Assembly and served 2 terms on the City Council from 1985-1991. During these years, it was not uncommon to enter the family home and find Jerry on several phones at one time and this was before the advent of cell phones! Jerry would nod your presence and continue his public service. He was recently elected to the City Council for another term but resigned after a partial term due to health reasons.
Jerry and Nancy had five children, David, Michael, Sheryl, Mark and Mary. In true Alaskan fashion the family lived on Nancy’s parent’s property on Persinger Drive, in a trailer with 3 wanigans attached. In November 1966, the family moved into a home in Taku subdivision and experienced two houses flooded by the 1967 flood the following summer. After the children grew up and moved away, Jerry and Nancy eventually moved back to the property on Persinger Drive affectionately called “river house” until they moved into Raven Landing in 2012.
Jerry’s passion to play high school football served as a motivating factor to encourage his own children to participate in football. Jerry’s family fondly remembers stories he shared about his own football experiences. Jerry and a group of dads organized a football program in Fairbanks. Remembering back, the children really did not understand his level of involvement with the community. He involved the whole family in community service work to accomplish what was needed. It was considered normal daily activity for the family to participate in Dad’s community related service. Activities such as wrapping Kiwanis trees at Christmas, driving garden tractors, dragging a chain link fence to smooth the ground and planting and watering the grass to create football fields at the Big Dipper were some experiences the whole family shared. This extended well past football, as Jerry did the same thing for a number of other sports and activities in the community. Jerry was involved with numerous other community projects and groups including hockey, cross country skiing, luge and baseball. Jerry did not mind doing what needed to be done in the background and out of the limelight as long as it helped accomplish the goal.
Jerry is survived by a large, loving extended family and community. Nancy Witt, his wife of 60 years, David and Debbie Norum, Michael and Nansi Chandler-Norum, Sheryl Norum-Bonar, Mark and Cathy Norum, Mary and Mark Hallman. Grandchildren, Joshua and (Jayme) Norum, Ashley and (fiancé Matt Ellis), Michael, Christopher and Jonathan Bonar, Alysia and Zachary Norum and Benjamin, Hannah and Zachary Hallman and great grandchildren Owen and Leo Norum. Brother in-law David and Linda Witt, nieces and nephews, Catherine and (Ken) Kershner, Sarah Witt and (Joe Voorhees), John and (Danielle) Witt and their children Jack and Cora Witt.
The family would like to thank the staff at Tanana Valley Clinic and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for their compassionate care.
Condolences may be sent to Nancy Norum and the family to Ravens Landing, 945 McGown Street, Fairbanks Alaska 99701
Services will be held at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Wednesday, April 11th. A Rosary will be said at 10:30 followed by a Mass of Resurrection at 11:00. A reception will be held between 4 and 6:30pm in the Binkley room at Pikes Landing Hotel.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests a contribution to your favorite charity keeping in mind Jerry’s fondness for the Fairbanks community and youth activities.