Yvonne Eileen Norrbom, 1945-2015
On Friday, May 29, 2015, Yvonne was found dead in her sleep. This was especially shocking because she was in good health, having lived her life well. She was a vegetarian, exercised regularly, never smoked or did recreational drugs, drank alcohol in moderation and watched her weight carefully. But in the end, the valve in her heart, the one that was repaired some 18 years ago, finally failed her.
Yvonne’s attitude was always positive. She made and kept her friends close, never forgetting to send birthday cards. She had a group of lady friends, whom she met sometime during her 25 years as a Special Education Teacher at Sonoma Developmental Center, who called themselves the “Girls Night Out (GNO)”. They would get together three or four times per year to celebrate their friendship with food, drink and good fellowship.
Yvonne was a graduate of Whittier College and Sonoma State University (SSU).
Yvonne loved to travel, and her travels took her to Spain, France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, and New Zealand. She sailed the Inland Passage to Alaska and visited Denali and Fairbanks. She took paddlewheel boat trips on the Mississippi and Columbia Rivers. She sailed from San Francisco through the Panama Canal to Miami, stopping at ports along the way to explore inland areas. Yvonne loved to take road trips, especially to see “her mountains,” the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, and the town of Jackson, Wyoming. Yvonne also loved the Hawaiian Islands, managing to visit most of them, but preferring Kauai especially, where she and her husband Eric (whom she stretched by encouraging him to travel with her) were planning on celebrating her 70th birthday this September.
But perhaps her favorite trips of all were to see her daughter Hawley Montgomery-Downs, son-in-law Ernie Tronco, and especially her grandchildren, Shea, Bryn and Owen, all living in West Virginia. She also enjoyed her frequent road trips to Arcata to visit her loving son, Taylor Downs.
Yvonne loved her family and kept in touch with Hawley and her family by using Skype every Saturday morning and with her sister Lyn in Oregon every Sunday morning. She often called her Aunt Glenda Martin and closest cousins in Phoenix and Tucson.
Yvonne was active in retirement, volunteering at various times with the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance, Jack London State Historic Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and the Medical Reserve Corps of Sonoma County. She was an Ambassador and class member of SSU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and a life member of the SSU Alumni Association. She sang for 25 years with the Sonoma Valley Chorale and was a supporter of the Green Music Center at SSU, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Francisco Opera, Doctors Without Borders, Social Advocates for Youth and various other organizations. Yvonne was a member and Delegate of the California State Retirees’ Chapter 21 and chaired the Scholarship committee. She was a life member of the Ferguson Observatory and the Kenwood Community Club.
In addition to those mentioned, Yvonne is survived by her nieces, Camille and Amanda Carter and nephew, Douglas Carter and good friend and college roommate Patty Peña of Guadalajara, Mexico. She is also survived by former mate, Ron Downs and friend and fellow traveler, John O’Flaherty. Eric’s family also mourns her passing.
Yvonne was not one to have gatherings in her honor such as to celebrate her birthdays, preferring instead to celebrate quietly with family and sometimes with a few close friends like David and Sharyn Cox. Sharyn was the cupid that managed to smooth the way for Yvonne and Eric to fall in love and spend 19 of the happiest years of their lives together.
In keeping with the way Yvonne celebrated her life, her family has chosen to not have a large celebration of her life, but instead to encourage those who appreciated who she was to share with others they know in a “traveling memorial celebration”, which is what has been happening already. You are encouraged to touch base with family members at your convenience to express your thoughts.
Donations in Yvonne’s memory to Jack London State Historic Park, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Sonoma State University, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Sonoma Valley Chorale, Pets Lifeline in Sonoma or any other charity of your choosing will be most appreciated.