Norm Letsinger: A man like Jesus wanted us to be

August 12, 2023

Norm Letsinger: A man like Jesus wanted us to be

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief 

Over the past week I have had the honor to assist my friends with preparing for the celebration of their father’s life. It’s been a privilege to write Norm Letsinger’s obituary and also create a slide presentation for his celebration of life. Norm died on August 4 following a fight against cancer. See his obituary here. 

I can sum up the life of Norm Letsinger like this: If there was a walking example of who Jesus wanted us to be, Norm Letsinger would certainly be pretty close to that person. Norm was a pastor and was a master at storytelling and words. But, his ability to spread the Gospel came from his demeanor and the life he led. 

I’ve known the Letsingers since they moved here in 1976. I was only 6, so I really didn’t know Norm, but his son, Jonathan, was in my class. The Letsingers, moving from Kentucky, but originating in Missouri, quickly became part of Mason County. It is often said that many people who move here (and likely to any small town), don’t often feel like natives. But, the Letsingers planted roots deep, figuratively and literally. Norm began Letsingers Windy Hill tree farm on the corner of Wilson and Tuttle roads. If you ever had a question about a tree, Norm was the guy to ask. He was also a master wood turner. Maybe his only fault was that his tractor was the wrong shade of green (he owned an Oliver). 

I think one of my earliest memories of Norm Letsinger was when I was in West Shore Community College’s first College for Kids program, probably about 1982. I was taking the ecology class taught by Professor Dale Sutton, Norm’s brother-in-law. Jonathan was also in the class and brought in jars of well-preserved large bugs that came from the South. I have no idea what kind of bugs they were, but they were pretty cool and we were told they came from Jonathan’s dad. 

Probably my second memory of Dr. Letsinger, that stands out, is the speech he gave at our Mason County Central High School Class of 1988 graduation. Norm was president of the board of education and son Jonathan was graduating. I don’t remember the entire speech just the actual point of the speech, which was to always take the high road no matter what situation you are in. Those words have stuck with me over the past 35 years. 

I have gotten to know Norm more over the past 10 years as my wife and I have become close friends with his daughter, Amy, and her husband Dave. Norm and his wife, Bonnie, have watched our kids grow up along with their grandchildren. We have shared kids’ and adults’ birthday parties together, celebrated New Year’s Eve, the Super Bowl, sat next to each other at our kids’ t-ball and softball games, dance recitals, school programs, and any other excuse to gather. 

Our family will truly miss his company and I will miss our conversation. He would always leave with this (and with a sly smile on his face): “It was a pleasure for you to see me.” It sure was Norm. It sure was. 

 

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