1935 - 1998
Norma Steiger came to study at the Valentine about 1982, a few years
after I did. The Valentine Assembly was the predecessor of NAN and was a
part of the needleart program of that Richmond, Virginia museum. Norma
was an Army wife and had moved around a lot. When we met, she was living
in Flagstaff, Arizona. Many of our conversations seemed to center around
the weather contrasts that she encountered coming from snowy Flagstaff
to beautiful, springy Richmond in April.
When Norma completed her Certification studies in Canvas in 1984, she
was awarded the Louise Downing Scholarship to go on into Honors. She had
won the Vicki Helms Memorial Scholarship the previous year to advance
from Level 1 to Level 2, even more proof that she was an excellent
stitcher and student.
However, her Honors study went "on hold," because Norma and
I became part of the first class in Judging Certification in 1985-86. We
were a small group of five who enjoyed our experimental time together
beginning a new, exciting part of the embroidery world. In one of our
many dinners together, Norma, introduced me to white zinfandel wine,
which I still drink by choice. It was a happy introduction for me.
We finished our Judging Certification in 1987 and began our judging
careers. We stayed in contact by phone and mail, in the days before the
We took a trip together once. By this time, Norma lived in Tucson.
She wanted to visit her Godmother, Mrs. McManus, in a Washington, D.C.
suburb before returning home, so we traveled together back to Maryland
from the Assembly which was in Williamsburg that spring. I remember her
amazement at seeing the dazzling beauty of the azaleas in bloom as we
drove into Silver Spring to her Godmother's home. There are no azaleas
Mrs. McManus, had a vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and
Norma came often in the 1990's for a summer visit. I live and teach in
Rehoboth in the summer. Norma never failed to give me a call when she
was in town. We would always get together at my apartment or at the
McManus house. We had many lovely visits there. One time Norma really
surprised me by just dropping in at the Rehoboth Art League, where I
work. That wasn't unusual, but seeing her in a swim suit (the usual
tourist attire there) as she walked toward me with a big grin, was the
surprise. Unfortunately, that was the last time that I saw her.
In 1998, Norma lost her life in a tragic auto accident. She was
continuing her Honors study in lace, and had talked to me a lot about
it. The Notebook Award is given at Assembly in Norma's honor, because
her notebooks were always so exceptional and set a standard of
excellence that is part of the NAN program today.
Norma Steiger was a good friend, and I remember her often, especially
when the azaleas bloom.