Norma Silker — Rochester

Norma Harriet Silker (nee Larson) died peacefully in her home at The Homestead of Rochester on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, of congestive heart failure.

Norma was born on Feb. 1, 1928, in Rochester to John Albert and Alma Matilda Larson. She graduated from Rochester High School in the outstanding Class of 1947. She worked at the Mayo Clinic after graduation until she married DeWaine Charles Silker on June 19, 1948. She joined DeWaine at Cedar Falls, Iowa, where she was Director of Student Help to support his way through school.

Norma and DeWaine had four children: Laurie Lavine (Phil Pienkos), of Denver, David (Teresa Tucker) Silker, of Rochester, Sue (Dave) Kanz, of Aitkin, Minn., and John Silker, of Rochester. One of the defining moments of her life was the three years she, DeWaine and their family spent in Istanbul, Turkey, where her husband taught mathematics at the American College for Girls. She nurtured each member of the family as they adapted to a country and a culture so different from southeastern Minnesota. While in Turkey, they traveled extensively through Europe and Turkey. In addition, throughout their lives together, Norma and DeWaine explored the United States from coast to coast, including Hawaii and Alaska.

To help her children through college, Norma worked at the Kahler Hotel in the area of Special Functions. She loved to knit, and one of her legacies is the many afghans she created to keep her family warm during the Minnesota winters. She was also an avid reader and enjoyed passing on her favorite books to her friends. She was a terrific bridge player, and one of her pleasures in recent years was playing Bingo Thursday nights at The Homestead. Although she won only occasionally, she always enjoyed socializing with the other girls. She referred to herself as a “stubborn Swede.” This quality was never more evident than in her determination to die at home. It was her husband and children’s great honor to carry out her wish.

Norma and DeWaine were married for 69 years. He was her companion, her provider, her protector, her nurse, her sparring partner and, most importantly, the love of her life.

In addition to her husband and her four children, Norma is survived by her brother, Arnold (Red) Larson, of Bella Vista, Ark., and her nine grandchildren, Laurie and Phil’s children, Elizabeth Pienkos and Andrew (Kathleen States) Pienkos; David and Teresa’s children, Chad (Elizabeth) Silker, Becky (Andrew) Hughes and Matthew (Megan) Silker; Sue and Dave’s children, Kelly (Tom) Sparks, Amy (Brad) Grgich and Erik (Betsy) Kanz; and John’s daughter, Sam Silker. Norma is also survived by her 15 great-grandchildren. She loved her family fiercely and cherished each person as a unique individual.

She is predeceased by her parents; two sisters, Bernice Olson and Margaret Curtin; and David and Teresa’s twin daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah Silker.

Norma was a lifelong member of Zumbro Lutheran Church. The Celebration of her Life will be held 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 30, at Zumbro Lutheran, preceded by visitation from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. After the service, everyone is invited to a luncheon at the church.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials to Ronald McDonald House, to Zumbro Lutheran Church or to a charity of the individual’s choosing. Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements and online condolences are welcome at Inurnment will occur at a later time.

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