Antique Vintage 04

Norma Lois (Sexton) Chilcutt

November 23, 1938 ~ October 18, 2020 (age 81)


Generous, funny, loving, colorful, family. Norma or Norm to her husband of almost 62 years, Chuck;
parents Don and Ada Sexton, brother Ron Sexton, sisters Donna Wedig and Mary Bowlby, lifelong
friends Jean Kirshak and Nancy Cox, and brother-in-law Martin Chilcutt; Aunt Norma to many nieces and
nephews; Mom to Martha VanAmberg, Chuck and Jeff Chilcutt but also called mom by many of her kids
close friends; and most recently Nanny to her grandchildren, Katie Merkle, Jeffy Chilcutt, Hannah
O’Strander, William, Charles, and Daniel Wolgamood, Chloe Chilcutt, great grandson, Andrew Merkle
and anyone who met her in the last 30 years. Nanny or Lil Nan is what we all called her and how we will
remember her.
Nanny read the obituaries in the newspaper every week, before she read anything else and pointed out
those that she thought were especially good – they were always ones that were not the standard (born,
died, survived by, loved to do, etc.) but rather were more personal and in most cases included funny
stories and said that when it was her time, that’s the kind of obituary she would like. So here we are
trying to honor that wish. We all thought about the things that made us smile about nanny and for
anyone that knew her, there were many of these. There are others that we had not heard about
(unlikely as she loved to talk and share stories) or more likely don’t remember (when we reminded her
she was old, she reminded us that we were old too then).
She had a great sense of humor and sharp wit, that hadn’t been dulled even as she got older. We were
having dinner a few weeks ago and she asked her grandson about things he liked to cook and had
something funny to say when he answered; everyone at the table laughed; and as dinner went on, she
would ask him something similar several times, with laughter erupting around the table each time – she
knew how to make us laugh and did it whenever she could. It made her happy to see that her kids and
grandkids had that same sense of humor and proud that she was able to pass this on to us.
Nanny was a people person – she loved talking to people, meeting new people, and being around
people. She was easy to talk to; this is one reason why her kid’s friends spent so much time at her house
and often called her “mom”. She had a way of making you feel like you were welcome and part of the
family, even if you had just met her. Her grandson said one thing that he remembers most about her
was that she always made his friends feel comfortable and like they were family when they met her.
Nanny was fun and interesting to be around. She wore very colorful earrings (big and dangly) and
clothes, including sweaters, sweatshirts, and tops that were brightly decorated – the grandkids loved
these when they were little, and it also made it easy to find her in a crowd. Nanny was also known to
show up for a Christmas or Easter dinner with pink or purple or an unknown color of hair, the result of a
self-coloring gone wrong – again the grandkids thought this was great and would talk before she got
there about what color her hair might be that day. She also did her best to limit her swearing in front of
the grandkids but told them if they caught her swearing, she would give them a quarter. But when they
pointed out she had said “damn”, she would tell them she was talking about a beaver dam and didn’t
they hear that part of the story. Even when kids were young adults and swore themselves, she still
would catch herself swearing and make up something funny to explain it and make the kids laugh.
Shopping was more than a necessity for nanny – it was more of a recreational activity (think cardio
meets yoga) and finding a great deal was the icing on the cake. She and her friends would not only shop
locally, every Friday without fail (and someone had to be in the hospital or dead to change those plans)
but also take trips to places like Traverse City, Petoskey, or outside Michigan, to Gatlinburg or Pigeon
Forge. These were not only shopping destinations but also just to spend time with her friends doing two

things she loved, shopping and traveling. The love of shopping skipped a generation (nothing her kids
enjoyed and something she could never understand – how could you not like to shop?), but luckily she
had grandkids that loved to shop and this was a way she could spend time with them. Finding a good
deal sometimes got the best of her – making a few too many purchases, so when her granddaughter
was helping her bring in her bags after a shopping trip, nanny told her they had to leave a few bags in
the car until after papa went to bed.
Nanny loved to go to new places and as a young woman, tried to become a flight attendant but her
eyesight prevented her from fulfilling that dream. Instead, after she married Chuck, she lived in Texas
with him, while he was in the service and enjoyed living somewhere new and different; later, after
having a family, there was camping all over Michigan, Canada, New England, the East Coast, and Florida
over many years. She was also able to live with Chuck when he was working out of town in Oklahoma;
and then there was visiting her kids and family in California, Texas, and Hawaii where they were living.
This was something that she missed being able to do as she got older and would still talk about flying to
see Chuck and Chloe in California, even though she knew she couldn’t.
Nanny was a bit of a speedster when it came to driving – she had been stopped for her speed but was
always able to talk to the officer and never ended up with a ticket that she admitted to anyone. In
recent years, we had talked about if she should be driving and she would always assure us that she was
being careful and dismissed she had any speeding issues even after we said we had seen her take a turn
fast and go through a red light. She just smiled and said it must have been someone else. She was also
not fond of people who tailgated and her grandkids remembered a time coming home from the mall
that a car was following them very close, so she drove slower than normal, hitting her brakes frequently
(brake-checking), until she turned, at which point the driver of the car following her flipped her off as
they drove by and made the grandkids laugh.
Family times together revolved around dinners, celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions,
and holidays. This was time spent with her mom and dad for Sunday dinners at their house in Kalamazoo
(fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and the best biscuits ever and Sunday dinner for them was at noon),
dinners out at their farm, dinner with Chuck and her kids every night ( a neighbor kid asked her once
why she cooked Sunday dinner every night – their family rarely ate home-cooked meals so seeing her
cook on days other than Sunday, seemed odd to them; something we couldn’t imagine not doing and in
fact did the same with our kids), as her kids got older and had their own families, Sunday dinner with
kids and grandkids, and then finally dinners and celebrations at her kids houses. Nanny was a very good
cook and baker, just like her mom and passed this on to her kids and grandkids. We all have many
memories of baking and cooking with nanny – making and decorating Christmas cookies and
gingerbread houses each year or just baking when you were visiting because she knew that you liked to
do it. She also knew the special things that each of us liked, like a pumpkin pie instead of a birthday cake
for our birthday and made these special treats for us each year. Even though she was a good cook, she
did like things like pizza crust, biscuits or cookies that were browned and crisp on the bottom but would
sometimes take them a bit past brown – we called them burned but she said they were only scorched
and just the way she liked them.
Nanny was one of the most generous and thoughtful people you would know. There isn’t anything she
wouldn’t do for her family, friends, or even a stranger in need (by the way she would say that last
sentence was Dutch for “she would do anything” and another thing she has passed along to us). She

would be the first to say that she is far from perfect and while that may be true, it is the imperfections
that are the things that made her able to laugh at herself and be the daughter, sister, friend, aunt, mom,
and nanny she was to all of us. There will be so much that we’ll miss but know we are lucky to have so
many memories and the time we had with her. We’ll remember her by having Bimbo’s pizza and white
cake with white frosting on her birthday and Mother’s Day and honor who she was to us by trying to be
the same generous, funny, and caring person that she was. We love you Lil Nan.
She had very definite ideas about the end of her life and to honor those wishes, she has been cremated
and there will be a celebration of her life (party in her words) in the spring or summer of 2021. In lieu of
flowers, please consider making a donation in her name to

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