March 29, 1941 – February 1, 2023
Norman Roy Westman of Bowden, Alberta died at Innisfail Health Centre on February 1, 2023, at the age of 81 years. Norm was born near Leroy, Saskatchewan to Cornelius and Laura (Eaton), on March 29, 1941. Later, the family lived for a time in Saskatoon during and after World War II, then moved to a farm near Kenaston, Saskatchewan following the war, after Cornelius returned from military service. Norm attended Zid School, then some secondary schooling in Kenaston. During his high school years, he boarded in town during winter, or rode horseback from the farm in fall and spring.
At the age of 16, Norm left home to work on pipeline construction with his older brother Earl. During his pipelining years he acquired the nickname “Gunner.” Between the 1950s and 1970s, working as a heavy equipment operator took Norm across the country: from BC to Quebec to NWT, as a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers. Well respected for his skills, Norm was proud of his work on the pipelines and told many stories from this time.
It was in Prince George, BC that Norm met a young nurse, Margaret Knox. They married in 1968 and continued to travel for Norm’s work, with Clinton born in Kamloops, BC in 1971 and Erin in Orillia, Ontario 18 months later. In 1976, the family settled on a small farm near Bowden. Norm mostly left the pipeline industry at that time, despite many offers to return. During his early years in Bowden, Norm worked hard to improve the farm, while employed at the Harmattan gas plant. He and Marg were active in curling and other activities, with Norm a member of the local Lions.
Although multiple sclerosis forced Norm to retire from his job in 1989, he in no way retired from life. He and Marg moved to a new house in town in 1999. Staying active with the Bowden Friendship Club and St Andrew’s United Church, Norm seemed to have unending energy for contributing to his community. A founder and “executive producer” of The St. Andrew’s Players, Norm organized local talent in numerous plays as fundraisers for the church. He was instrumental in establishing the Paterson Community Centre, where he and Marg celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2018. Retirement gave Norm the opportunity to pursue his hobbies. His talent for woodworking resulted in beautiful furniture pieces, barn-board frames, and game boards. An active card player, he could be counted on for a game of bridge or whist at almost any social gathering. Norm loved music and once boasted that he knew the lyrics to most of the big songs of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Later in life, he and Marg were part of the Evergreen Singers. Other hobbies included reading, birdwatching, and following sports: curling, Blue Jays, Flames (particularly during their winning streaks), and Stampeders. Watching Jeopardy! became a nightly ritual.
Notwithstanding the obstacles he faced, Norm’s outgoing personality and positive outlook were a gift to those who knew him, including many friends from the different phases of his life. He delighted in connecting with all branches of his large extended family, as well as his Knox and Hughson in-laws. “Grandpa Norm” was especially proud of his grandsons, Thomas and Miles.
Norman is lovingly remembered by his family: Margaret, Clint (Laura), Erin (Jeff Hodgson), grandsons Tom and Miles, sisters Evelyn McVeigh, Shirley (Jim) Sanderson, and Dawna Westman, as well as many in-laws, nieces, nephews, and cousins. Norm was predeceased by his beloved brother Earl, sister-in-law Corinne Westman, and dear brother-in-law Glenn McVeigh. A memorial service will take place at Innisfail United Church on February 11, at 2 pm. Donations in Norm's memory can be made to the MS Society of Canada.